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Nov 11, 2006

Artificial gut

Via Frontal Cortex


The New York Times reports that British scientists have built an apparatus that simulates human digestion.

From the article:

Constructed from sophisticated plastics and metals able to withstand the corrosive acids and enzymes found in the human gut, the device may ultimately help in the development of super-nutrients, such as obesity-fighting foods that could fool the stomach into thinking it is full.

''There have been lots of jam-jar models of digestion before,'' said Dr. Martin Wickham of Norwich's Institute of Food Research, the artificial gut's chief designer, referring to the beakers of enzymes typically used to approximate the chemical reactions in the stomach.

Wickham's patented artificial gut is a two-part model that is slightly larger than a desktop computer. The top half consists of a funnel in which food, stomach acids and digestive enzymes are mixed. Once this hydration process is finished, the food gets ground down in a silver metal tube encased in a dark, transparent box.

Software sets the parameters of the artificial gut - how long food remains in a particular part of the stomach, predicted hormone responses at various stages, and whether it is an infant or adult gut.


With a capacity about half the size of an actual stomach, the artificial gut can ''eat'' roughly 24 ounces of food. To date, the most substantial meal it's enjoyed is vegetable soup.

''It's so realistic that it can even vomit,'' adds Wickham.


Read the full story here

14:15 Posted in Research tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: research tools

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