A brain tool from Billioniare Musk might cure obesity. Scientists think it’s unlikely.
Musk’s Neuralink brain device might help cure obesity. It’s not as impossible as it seems, say experts.
“I don’t believe it’s any more improbable than previous promises about the potential of neurotechnology,” said Professor Andrew Jackson of Newcastle University.
This adds “morbid obesity” to Musk’s expanding list of maladies that he thinks Neuralink might help heal.
Although a commercially accessible obesity-busting brain chip was still a long way off, experts told Insider that the notion was intriguing.
A weight-loss brain implant?
Musk founded Neuralink in 2016 to create a microchip that is inserted into the skull. The technology reads and maybe stimulates brain activity using tiny cables with electrodes.
Musk has previously said that Neuralink might cure neurological ailments like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He’s previously said the chip might “solve autism” and create a “symbiosis” between humans and AI.
There’s little information beyond Musk‘s recent TED talk regarding how Neuralink can assist fight obesity.
However, Sadaf Farooqi, a Cambridge professor of metabolism and medicine, believes the notion is realistic.
“We and others have proven that in certain persons with extreme obesity, the hypothalamus is driving an increase in appetite,” she added.
The hypothalamus is a brain organ that regulates hormone production.
“A medicine or technology that targeted that specific location and even those specific neurons that regulate appetite may potentially enhance patients’ lives,” Farooqi added.
According to Newcastle University’s Jackson, a brain implant would be less intrusive than previous obesity therapies. Some of these therapies alter the patient’s digestive system’s form and function.
Early findings are mixed.
Some researchers are so confident in brain implant technology that they’ve started early human trials with conflicting outcomes.
A brain implant that sent regular electric pulses to the hypothalamus was used in one research involving six morbidly obese persons. According to Elemental, one person dropped almost 100 pounds, three lost some weight but not much, and two gained none.
According to Elemental, just one of three people lost weight in a comparable experiment. Also, a mini-trial is
“I’d say these studies are pretty cutting-edge,” Farooqi remarked. “They were probably not very instructive.”
“But the fact that they went forward and helped some folks is positive.”
Symptoms or cause?
“A chip focused simply on appetite reduction is likely to fail,” said Francesco Rubino, head of metabolic surgery at King’s College London.
“Everything we’ve attempted so far has failed,” he remarked.
A new study reveals eating habits aren’t the main cause of obesity. It’s also possible that the body isn’t adequately burning fat for energy, according to Rubino. “It’s like having a tank full of gasoline, but the fuel isn’t being used effectively.”
Identifying the disease’s cause and implanting it would eliminate the issue, according to Rubino.
A brain chip that successfully fights obesity is probably a long way off. For example, Neuralink is still waiting for human testing certification, and Musk said in his TED talk that once approved, the business would concentrate on the brain and spinal damage for “probably a decade.”
“There is still quite a lot of research that would be required, with the technological development,” said Newcastle’s Jackson.