MIT study looks at new vibrating pill as innovative weight loss treatment

The key to filling a person’s stomach may lie in a vibrating capsule, according to a weight-loss treatment study involving pigs and Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers.

The pill, called the Vibratory Ingestible BioElectronic Stimulator, or VIBES for short, stimulates the nerve endings that sense stomach expansion, tricking the brain into thinking the stomach is full.

“The capsule, which is about the size of a large vitamin, contains a small motor that begins to vibrate when it hits the stomach, stimulating the organ’s stretch receptors,” according to MIT Technology Review magazine.

Researchers found that animals given the drug 20 minutes before eating stimulated the release of hormones that signal satiety and reduced their food intake by nearly 40%, according to a news release.


After 24 hours of immersion, the tablet, called VIBES for short, was able to activate and function normally. (Science Advances)

“For someone who wants to lose weight or control their appetite, it can be taken before each meal,” says Shriya Srinivasan PhD ’20, a former MIT graduate student and postdoc who is now an assistant professor of bioengineering at Harvard. University. “This could be really interesting in that it provides an option that can reduce the side effects that we see with other pharmacological treatments out there.”

Srinivasan is the lead author of the new study, which appeared Friday in Science Advances, an “open access” journal from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Diet medicine Mounjaro

Rachel Graham holds a Mounjaro injectible pen at her home in Carlsbad, California, Nov. 30, 2022. The drug has become popular for aiding weight loss. (Sandy Huffaker for The Washington Post via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The current version of VIBES is designed to vibrate for 30 minutes after arriving in the stomach, but the researchers plan to explore the possibility of it staying there longer, with the ability to turn it on or off. wirelessly.

During animal testing, the pills passed through the digestive track in about four to five days.

“The animals did not show any signs of obstruction, perforation, or other negative effects while the pill was in their digestive tract,” the MIT release said.

VIBES researchers will now look at scaling up production of the capsules, “which could enable clinical trials in humans.”

Ozempic in a box

A box of Ozempic, a semaglutide injection drug used to treat type 2 diabetes and manufactured by Novo Nordisk, is seen at a Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, May 29, 2023. The drug has recently become popular for in losing weight. (REUTERS/George Frey/Reuters Photos)

Currently, celebrities and everyday people are turning to drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro for weight loss.

Mounjaro and Ozempic have been approved by federal health officials to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. However, due to their effects on weight loss, both drugs are also used “off label” in treat obesity, especially when Wegovy is hard to come by.

woman in one measure

Losing weight will be a New Year’s resolution for many, as researchers look for new technologies that can help. (BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)


Wegovy and Ozempic have the same active ingredient, semaglutide, but they have different dosages and FDA-approved intended uses. Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy was approved in 2021 by the FDA for chronic weight management. At the time, it was the first drug approved since 2014 for long-term weight management, and it quickly rose in popularity.

Aislinn Murphy and Daniella Genovese of Fox Business contributed to this report.

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