A removable device that lines the gut and stops body from sucking in calories may soon offer hope for people who are dangerously obese.
Inserted into the gut through the mouth, the EndoBarrier, developed by GI Dynamics of Lexington, Massachusetts, is an impermeable sleeve that lines the first 60 centimetres of the small intestine, reports New Scientist.
But unlike a gastric band, the sleeve can be inserted in less than half an hour, without the need for surgery.
According to animal experiments and preliminary human trials, it reduces weight and rapidly brings type II diabetes under control.
Using an endoscope, the device, enclosed in a capsule, is inserted via the mouth. Once in place below the base of the stomach, the capsule releases a small ball that with the help of a catheter pulls a flexible sleeve made of the slippery polymer PTFE through the intestine.
The ball is chucked out and the sleeve is fixed in place by releasing a spiked attachment made from the shape-memory metal alloy nitinol.
Revolutionary EndoBarrier can be removed in less than 10 minutes by tugging on a drawstring to collapse the attachment device and pull out the spikes. The EndoBarrier is then pulled back out though the mouth.
"We aren't doing anything to the stomach, so the patient can still eat normally," says Stuart Randle, president of GI Dynamics, who adds that some patients given gastric bands find ways to fulfil their cravings for more calories.
"They can do a lot of creative things, basically putting food into blenders," he says.
The total cost of the EndoBarrier, including installation and removal, will be around 7500dollars. This compares to 15,000 dollars or more for inserting a gastric band, or at least 20,000 dollars for a gastric bypass, says Randle.