A new device that is said to stop the digestion of some foods without the need for surgery is in trials in England. EndoBarrier is a flexible lining that’s inserted orally through a tube. The theory is similar to the effects of gastric banding, a type of bariatric surgery that creates a smaller stomach so less food can be consumed.
Instead of banding the outside of the stomach, as is done in gastric banding, EndoBarrier is inflated inside the intestines in a 15-minute procedure that stops some of the food that is eaten from being absorbed. Since it’s inserted through the patient’s mouth, surgery isn’t necessary to put it in place or to remove it, says the firm, GI Dynamics, and it can be left in place for up to a year.
The goal, GI Dynamics says, is to help obese people, who have or are at serious risk for Type 2 diabetes, to lose a significant amount of weight. People who are obese are far more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to many other issues like heart disease, strokes and early death. However, many studies have shown that losing excess weight can reverse Type 2 diabetes and eliminate the need for insulin-regulating drugs.
The device isn’t available in the United States, where it is considered investigational, but other countries like Chili, Germany and Austria have allowed it. GI Dynamics presented EndoBarrier at the J.P. Morgan Global Healthcare Conference last month in San Francisco. We’ll be watching to see how it does during its clinical trials across the pond. With 26 million Americans living with diabetes and another 76 million who have pre-diabetes, this could be a much-needed new invention.
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