Home Medical News Minimally-Invasive Procedure Targets Hunger Hormone for Potential Weight Loss

Minimally-Invasive Procedure Targets Hunger Hormone for Potential Weight Loss

by Dr. Shruthi R
Minimally-Invasive Procedure Targets Hunger Hormone for Potential Weight Loss

A new minimally-invasive procedure that targets the “hunger hormone” ghrelin shows promise in aiding weight loss by reducing hunger and lowering ghrelin levels. Initial trials report significant weight loss and reduced appetite, offering a potential alternative to traditional weight loss treatments.

A groundbreaking, minimally-invasive procedure that targets the “hunger hormone” ghrelin shows promise in helping treat obesity. The procedure, involving endoscopic ablation, reduces ghrelin production by burning specific areas of the stomach lining, potentially aiding in weight loss.

Research and Findings

Researchers conducted a six-month trial to evaluate the effectiveness of this novel approach. The trial, presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2024, involved 10 female participants with a BMI of 30 or above and an average age of 38 years. Each participant underwent endoscopic fundic mucosal ablation, a procedure traditionally used to remove nodules and early cancers in the esophagus but now repurposed for weight loss.

The results were promising:

  • Participants experienced an average weight loss of 7%.
  • Fasting ghrelin levels dropped by nearly 50%.
  • Participants reported feeling less hungry.
  • Some participants’ stomach sizes decreased by up to 42%.

Procedure Details

Endoscopic mucosal ablation targets the fundic mucosa, the area of the stomach where ghrelin and other hunger-related hormones are secreted. Ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone,” is responsible for stimulating appetite when you haven’t eaten and promoting satiety after meals.

Dr. Christopher McGowan, the lead author and gastroenterologist at True You Weight Loss in North Carolina, highlighted the potential of this brief, outpatient procedure to facilitate weight loss and curb hunger. He noted that this could be an option for patients who are ineligible for anti-obesity medications like Wegovy and Ozempic or those who prefer not to undergo bariatric surgery.

Expert Opinions

While the initial findings are promising, experts caution that further research is needed to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of this procedure. Dr. Dan Azagury, section chief of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery at Stanford Health, emphasized the need for more rigorous trials to validate the procedure’s safety and effectiveness for sustained weight loss. Dr. Jihad Kudsi, a bariatric surgeon and Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at the University of Chicago, stressed the importance of evaluating long-term weight maintenance outcomes.

Safety and Comparisons to Other Procedures

No serious adverse events were reported during the trial, indicating the procedure’s safety. Compared to traditional bariatric surgeries, which involve significant manipulation of the stomach to reduce its size, this endoscopic approach is less invasive and directly targets ghrelin production. Other endoscopic weight-loss procedures, such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty and intragastric balloon placement, affect ghrelin production indirectly, but endoscopic ablation offers a direct approach.

Potential and Future Research

The procedure represents a new tool in the fight against obesity, offering an alternative to existing treatments. Breakthrough medications like Ozempic and Wegovy, which target the GLP-1 hormone, have shown effectiveness in treating obesity, but the endoscopic ablation procedure specifically targets ghrelin, providing a different mechanism of action.

Obesity is a complex and lifelong disease, requiring multiple treatment modalities for effective management. The introduction of this new procedure adds to the armamentarium of options available to healthcare providers, enabling personalized treatment plans for patients.

A minimally-invasive endoscopic procedure targeting the “hunger hormone” ghrelin shows potential as a weight loss treatment. Initial trial results indicate significant weight loss, reduced fasting ghrelin levels, and decreased hunger. However, more extensive and long-term studies are necessary to confirm its safety and effectiveness. This innovative approach could become a valuable addition to existing obesity treatments, providing new hope for those struggling with weight management.

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