MIT research examines new vibrating pills as an innovative weight loss treatment

According to a weight-loss treatment study involving pigs and engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the key to a full stomach may lie in a vibrating capsule.

The pill, called the Vibratory Inestible BioElectronic Stimulator, or VIBES for short, stimulates nerve endings that detect stomach expansion and trick the brain into thinking the stomach is full.

“The capsule, about the size of a large vitamin, has a tiny motor that starts vibrating when it hits the stomach and stimulates the organ’s stretch receptors,” according to the MIT Technology Review.

The researchers found that animals given the drug 20 minutes before eating had stimulated the release of hormones that signal satiety and reduced their food intake by about 40 percent, according to a press release.


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

“For anyone looking to lose weight or control their appetite, it can be taken before every meal,” said Shriya Srinivasan PhD ’20, a former MIT graduate student and postdoc who is now an assistant professor of biotechnology at Harvard University. “This could be really interesting because it would provide an alternative that could minimize the side effects that we see with other pharmacological treatments.”

Srinivasan is the lead author of a new study published Friday in Science Advances, the “open access” journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Slimming medicine Mounjaro

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

The current version of VIBES is designed to vibrate for 30 minutes after entering the stomach, but the researchers plan to explore the possibility of staying there longer so that it can be turned on or off wirelessly.

In animal experiments, the pills passed through the digestive tract for about four to five days.

“The animals did not show any signs of blockage, perforation, or other adverse effects when the pill was in the digestive tract,” the MIT news release says.

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

Ozempic in a box

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

Currently, celebrities and everyday people use drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro for weight loss.

Federal health officials approved Mounjaro and Ozempic to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. However, due to their weight loss effects, both drugs were also used for “off label” purposes treats obesity in particular when Wegovy was hard to come by.

woman on scales

Weight loss is a New Year’s resolution for many, while researchers are looking for new technologies that can help. (BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)


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

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

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