The EndoPil: A potential solution in the fight against the global obesity epidemic

By Patrycja Sztachelski

Scientists have developed a self-inflating capsule that could help fight against obesity. The EndoPil contains a balloon that can be self-inflated using a handheld magnet once the capsule reaches the stomach to create a sense of fullness.

Nowadays, patients can decide to undergo surgery to insert an intragastric balloon into the stomach via endoscopy under sedation, but this option is rather invasive, and side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, are quite common, affecting up to 20 percent of patients and necessitating early balloon removal as a result.

The capsule, which was designed by a team led by Professor Louis Phee, the Dean of Engineering at Nanyang Technological University, and Professor Lawrence Ho, a clinician-innovator at the National University Health System, avoids such problems by providing an orally-administered option to battle obesity. The EndoPil should be removed within a month to ensure that the stomach does not completely adapt to the balloon’s presence—by increasing the space-occupying effect in the stomach gradually, side effects such as nausea or vomiting can be avoided.

Currently, once the capsule is swallowed with a glass of water, it enters the stomach, where the acid breaks the outer gelatine casing. The location of the capsule in the stomach is identified using a magnetic sensor, which can attract the magnet attached to the inflation valve on the capsule. This attractive force between magnets causes the valve to open, which allows the acid and salt stored in compartments in the capsule to be released, producing carbon dioxide to fill up the balloon.

The team of scientists is working on programming the capsule to automatically biodegrade and deflate after a certain time period before passing through the body’s digestive system naturally.

Nanyang Technological University. (2019, April 24). Scientists develop swallowable self-inflating capsule to help tackle obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190424102215.htm