London – Scientists from the Imperial College of London are claiming to have designed an ‘intelligent’ microchip which can actually suppress the appetite. Researchers are about to start conducting animal trials of the electric implant.

If it works, it could prove to be a safer, more effective alternative to weight loss surgery, BBC News reports.

The chip is attached to the vagus nerve, which plays a huge role in appetite as well an array of other functions within the body.

Makers of the chip say human trials can begin within three years.

Prof. Chris Toumazou explained that the chip “can actually model neural signs responsible for appetite control,” AllVoices reports. By controlling the appetite, people who need to lose weight will still eat, but they will be more mindful. It may result in them eating more slowly and/or in them making more healthy choices.

Prof. Toumazou is working with Prof. Sir Steven Bloom on the microchip. The microchip involves an “intelligent implantable modulator” the professors told BBC News.

The modulator is attached to the vagus nerve using cuff electrodes. The chip and cuffs will read and process electrical and chemical signatures of appetite within the vagus nerve. The chip can then act upon what the readings show and send signals to the brain, which reduce or stop the urge to eat.

The project has received 7m euros ($9m) in funding from the European Research Council.

A microchip has also been designed by a research team at the Imperial College of London to reduce epileptic seizures. This device also targets the vagus nerve.

Regarding the differences between the appetite control microchip and gastric banding, Prof. Sir Stephen Bloom said that unlike gastric banding, the chip will actually reduce both food consumption and feelings of hunger, Zee News reports.