This Weightloss Implant Kills the “Hunger Hormone”

The new minimally-invasive treatment could one day help obese patients lose weight my making them feel full.

A recent SciTechDaily article had good news for those struggling to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. A team of researchers have developed a new type of implant that kills the cells that produce ghrelin, aka the “hunger hormone.” While other weight loss implants, such as an appetite-suppressing balloon, require surgery, this novel one is inserted in the stomach via the mouth with the help of local anesthesia.

In 2019, the team developed a device called an “intragastric satiety-inducing device” or “ISD.” It consists of a stent that is lodged into the lower esophagus and a disk that sits in the opening to the stomach. In the middle of the disk is a hole that allows food to pass through, but lowers food intake and weight gain by enhancing the feeling of being full and reducing the levels of ghrelin which is produced near the top of the stomach. However, the device caused acid reflux and could migrate into the stomach. 

The newest version of the device is coated with methylene blue, an FDA-approved drug that when exposed to laser light releases singlet oxygen that kills the ghrelin-producing cells. The device was successfully tested in pigs, reducing ghrelin levels and weight gain by half compared to normal pigs, giving hope for a human application down the line.

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