"The Stomach is Controlled by Computer"

"And Can Even Vomit"

The Institute of Food Research hopes it will aid the development of new superfoods by revealing how they are broken down in the gut. The device, made from sophisticated plastics and metals, can withstand the corrosive gut acids and enzymes, and can be fed real food.

It mimics both the physical and chemical reactions that take place during digestion - and can even vomit.

Chief designer Dr Martin Wickham said his model was much more sophisticated than previous attempts, which tended to focus solely on reproducing the chemistry of digestion. It even mimics the stomach contractions which are used to break up food, and send it on its way along the alimentary canal.

The top half of the model consists of a vessel in which food, stomach acids and digestive enzymes are mixed. Once this hydration process is finished, the food gets broken down into smaller pieces that can be absorbed by the human body. Computer software is used to control how long food remains in a particular part of the stomach, and the release of the gut secretions.

It has the capacity of about half the size of an actual stomach, and can "eat" the equivalent of a normal portion of fish and chips.

Previously pioneered by Wim Delvoye's Cloaca.

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