Intestine liner helps weight loss, U.S. firm says
A U.S. company is developing a removable liner for the intestine that mimics some aspects of weight-loss surgery, offering obese people a nonsurgical way to drop weight and combat the most common form of diabetes.
GI Dynamics Inc. of Lexington, Massachusetts, said its EndoBarrier is intended for morbidly obese people who want to avoid procedures such as gastric bypass surgery. The company presented research on Friday showing the device helps obese people lose weight and lower blood sugar levels.
The device lines part of the intestines with a thin material similar to Teflon, keeping food from touching the intestinal walls, the company said.
“Fundamentally what we’re trying to do is mimic the bypass portion of a gastric bypass procedure. So instead of surgically bypassing the intestine, we’re mechanically bypassing the intestine. And we’re doing that with an impermeable membrane that lines the inside of the intestine,” Stuart Randle, chief executive officer of privately held GI Dynamics, said in a telephone interview.
Doing so appears to influence hormones relating to hunger, feeling full and blood glucose regulation, according to Dr. Jan Willem Greve of Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, who did company-funded research on the device.
It also may delay gastric emptying, which means food stays in the stomach longer and a person feels full longer.
Weight-loss surgery alters the digestive system’s anatomy, reducing the volume of food a person can eat and digest. The most common type is gastric bypass, which makes the stomach smaller and takes food past part of the small intestine.
This device does not change how much food a patient can eat.
The device is implanted through the mouth, down the throat, through the stomach and into the intestines. The lining covers about 2 feet (60 cm) of the 12-foot (3.6-metre) intestines.
It is being tested in clinical trials to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes. Greve presented findings from a small study at a medical meeting in Argentina on Friday.
Twenty-six people in the Netherlands had the device and 11 did not. All followed the same diet. People in both groups on average weighed more than 300 pounds (135 kg). After three months, those with the device lost an average of about 30 pounds (14 kg) compared to 9.7 pounds (4.4 kg) for the others.
The eight people with type 2 diabetes who got the device had their blood sugar levels drop significantly, Greve said.
Greve said side effects included minor nausea and vomiting in the week to 10 days after implantation.
Randle did not offer a timetable for bringing the device to market, but said it could be years. Gastric bypass surgery costs about $26,000. Randle said the cost for getting this device would be less than $10,000.
By Will Dunham
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