(02/06/14) - There is a new treatment for diabetes that could mean a life
with no medication for a lot of people.
More than a third of American adults are obese. Twenty-three million have type two diabetes. This treatment could also fight both of these serious health issues.
A couple of years ago, Gale Johnson got a diagnosis she feared would come, type two diabetes, "oh I have a list of medications that I take."
That list might just disappear if a new treatment, under study at Washington University, is successful. It is called the endo-barrier for type two diabetes.
"It's essentially doing the same kind of thing that you would get from surgery," said Dr. Shelby Sullivan.
Doctors insert the plastic-like device through a tube that is passed through the mouth and stomach into the first part of the small intestines. When food passes, the endo-barrier protects it from digestive enzymes in the intestine.
Sullivan and her fellow researchers believe the device may also alter hormone signals in the digestive tract, "it's affecting metabolism in a way that it's improving diabetes."
The device is already approved in Europe, Australia, Chile and Israel. It is still in clinical trials in the United States. In previous studies, patients experienced a weight loss of about 20 percent and improved their hemoglobin A1C levels by two points.
"That helps a diabetic because it's getting their blood sugar under control. So, it actually may help them get off medication," Sullivan says.
Patients have the implant for a year. Risks are extremely rare, but include damage to or blockages in the intestine.
ABC12 Main Station