IntraPace of Mountain View, CA, have developed an implantable stimulator for keeping hunger at bay. The abiliti system is an implantable gastric stimulator, with some additional activity and stomach monitoring features. It is implanted using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and aims to provide obese patients with a BMI between 35 and 55 an alternative to existing weight loss options.
The ability system is designed to minimize the feeling of hunger while trying to encourage longer-term, sustainable weight loss habits such as exercising more frequently and controlling dietary intake. The system also communicates with an on-line portal called my.abiliti which allows patients to review their food consumption and activity levels and share this information with approved peers as a social motivator for weight loss. This approach is described in detail on the Intrapace website:
Once implanted and activated, the abiliti system is designed to detect when a person consumes food or drink. When food or drink is detected, the system delivers a series of low-energy electrical impulses to the stomach intended to create a feeling of fullness. These electrical impulses are customized to the needs of each individual patient. The system also tracks patient activity levels, providing a comprehensive view of food consumption and exercise trends. This information may be used by patients and their healthcare providers to reinforce healthy behaviors and activities that lead to weight loss.
To date the abliti system has received CE marking in England, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany in 2011, but is still awaiting FDA approval in the U.S.. According to a recent Businessweek feature on the system, the total cost of implanting the device in Europe was €15,000 (US$19,500) though a possible U.S. price has not been confirmed by IntraPace. A series of studies investigating the efficacy of the device are due in the coming months. The inbuilt accelerometer for monitoring activity and eating habits is a neat feature and it will be interesting to see if the abiliti system could make a major dent on the front lines of the growing obesity epidemic.
Product page: abiliti system
Businessweek: IntraPace’s Fat-Zapping Implant, Abiliti