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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014

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CanWest News Service: Deep brain electrodes can curb overeating, researchers say

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

By Sharon Kirkey

CanWest News Service

Building on research first done in Canada, human experiments are underway to test using jolts of electricity to the brain to keep obese people from overeating.

Deep brain stimulation involves boring through the skull and implanting tiny electrodes in regions of the hypothalamus believed to control hunger and satiety, or feelings of fullness.

A year ago, Toronto researchers reported the world's first attempt to treat obesity in a human with deep brain stimulation. Now, two more patients have been operated on in Pittsburgh, and a fourth is scheduled for surgery in the next month.

The idea is to use electrical brain implants "to get better weight control" by resetting the body's metabolism, says Dr. Don Whiting, a neurosurgeon at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Chicago researchers reported two years ago that the surgery resulted in "significant and sustained" weight loss in rats.

In the obesity experiments, all volunteers have failed gastric bypass, or stomach-stapling, surgery, and still are "morbidly" obese, meaning they weigh at least 100 pounds above their ideal weight. So far, "they are, subjectively, definitely feeling less hungry," Whiting says. But subjective is a key word. It could be a placebo effect.

To read more, visit canada.com

 

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