Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania may have found the next big trend in weight loss: deep brain stimulation (DBS).
A new study has found that DBS in a specific brain region in mice can activate a dopamine type-2 receptor. The process was shown to reduce both the caloric intake and weight of obese mice. The study has been published in in the Journal of Neuroscience.
"Based on this research, DBS may provide therapeutic relief to binge eating, a behavior commonly seen in obese humans, and frequently unresponsive to other approaches," said Tracy Bale, a neuroscience professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "These results are our best evidence yet that targeting the nucleus accumbens with DBS may be able to modify specific feeding behaviors linked to body weight changes and obesity."
According to the study's authors, almost 50% of obese people binge eat. The researchers define binge eating as "uncontrollably" consuming high-calorie food within a short period of time. The mice that received DBS were shown to eat "significantly " less high fat food. The long-term effects of DBS on obese mice also showed their glucose sensitivity improved.
DBS is currently used to reduce tremors in Parkinson's disease patients.
"Once replicated in human clinical trials, DBS could rapidly become a treatment for people with obesity due to the extensive groundwork already established in other disease areas," said Casey Halpern, lead author of the study and a resident in the Perelman School's Department of Neurosurgery.