Researchers have developed a self-inflating weight management capsule that could be used to treat obese patients. The prototype capsule, called the EndoPil, contains a balloon that can be self-inflated with a handheld magnet once it is in the stomach, thus inducing a sense of fullness. Its magnetically activated inflation mechanism causes a reaction between a harmless acid and a salt stored in the capsule, which produces carbon dioxide to fill up the balloon. The concept behind the capsule is for it to be ingested orally.
Designed to be swallowed with a glass of water, the capsule enters the stomach, where the acid within breaks open the outer gelatin casing of the capsule. Its location in the stomach is ascertained by a magnetic sensor, an external magnet measuring 5 cm in diameter is used to attract the magnet attached to the inflation valve, opening the valve. This mechanism avoids premature inflation of the device while in the oesophagus, or delayed inflation after it enters the small intestine. Currently, the capsule has to be deflated magnetically.
The team is now working on a natural decompression mechanism for the capsule, as well as reducing its size.
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