Sun, Nov 12, 2006 - Page 19 News List

British scientists have thatgut feeling

A desktop computer-size model of the human stomach is so sophisticated it can even vomit


Still, Bloom said that looking at issues such as the breakdown of food and the role of enzymes in a model stomach is valuable.

"There are a number of questions that are very difficult to study in real life that could more easily be answered in the laboratory," he said, explaining that using human volunteers to collect information about digestion is usually a costly and uncomfortable process.

With a capacity about half the size of an actual stomach, the artificial gut can "eat'' roughly 600 milliliters of food, or a normal portion of fish and chips. To date, the most substantial meal it's enjoyed is vegetable soup.

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

The model gut, which was publicly funded, was built at a cost of approximately US$1.8 million. Wickham and his colleagues are currently negotiating with about a dozen companies regarding future projects for the gut.

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