In what could revolutionise healthcare for the rising diabetes population worldwide, scientists claimed to have developed a 15-minute non-surgical treatment that could lead to drastic weight loss and reverse the onset of the disease.
The breakthrough treatment, considered a cheap and safe alternative to surgery, involves a device called EndoBarrier — a plastic sleeve that is inserted into the intestine of a patient to prevent food being absorbed into the body.
The device, developed by a US-based company, is fed through the mouth using an instrument called an endoscope while the patient is awake, the Daily Express reported.
“Obesity surgery can be risky simply because of the patient’s weight and the fact that you are giving them a general anaesthetic. That’s why it’s so good to have a non-surgical approach,” said Dr Keith Gersin, head of obesity surgery at Carolinas Medical Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina, which has been trialling the EndoBarrier sleeve for 18 months.
“It is so quick to fit that you can get lots more patients treated. The patients loved it so much they didn’t want us to remove it at the end of the trial period. We had no significant side effects and it was easily removed.”
Extensive tests of EndoBarrier have been carried out in the U.S. and Europe and last week the new device was given a licence for use on European patients.
In a 12-week trial in the Netherlands, patients fitted with the EndoBarrier lost an average of two-and-a-half stone compared with a control group of patients who dieted and lost just 12 pounds (more than 5 kg).
According to its developers, the treatment, which costs around 2,000 pound, is about half the cost of the cheapest obesity operation.
“The patients who used it have continued to lose weight. It gave them the incentive to diet and eat sensibly,” said Dr Gersin.
The EndoBarrier device is fitted to the first two feet of the small intestine where most food is absorbed. During trials the sleeve was able to reverse Type 2 diabetes within weeks by reducing patients’ blood sugar levels so they no longer needed to take drugs.
Professor Nadey Hakim, a leading U.K. consultant in weight loss surgery, said: “I would love to be able to cure a patient’s obesity with a 15-minute procedure. It’s a very clever idea. It’s going to be very attractive to patients because they won’t have the worry of having surgery. We make obesity operations as safe as we can but if you can avoid surgery it would be better.”