You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Obesity injection can dramatically reduce weight without need for gastric surgery

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 06/08/2019 Sarah Knapton
a close up of a device: The infusion could even prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes © PA The infusion could even prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes

Explore the issues faced by the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people this summer and discover what you can do to help.

An obesity injection which mimics the effect of a gastric bypass operation without the need for surgery, has been developed by British scientists.

The NHS performs around 6,000 gastric bands and bypasses each year, which can dramatically help obese people to lose weight and improve blood sugar levels in diabetics. 

But the procedures are expensive and can cause complications such as abdominal pain, chronic nausea, vomiting and debilitating low blood sugar levels.

Now scientists at Imperial College London have developed a hormonal cocktail which when injected under the skin recreates chemical changes in the body which accompany stomach surgery. 

As the stomach becomes smaller after an operation, the body starts producing glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin and peptide, which suppress appetite, trigger weight loss and help sugar absorption from food. 

The infusion could even prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes  - PA © PA The infusion could even prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes  - PA

When 15 obese people were given continual injections of the treatment under the skin for 12 hours a day, they lost an average of 4.4kg over four weeks, and blood sugar levels returning to near normal levels for some patients. 

Researchers believe that longer treatments could help people lose up to 15 per cent of the body weight and even reverse type 2 diabetes.

Tricia Tan, professor of practice (metabolic medicine & endocrinology) at Imperial and lead author of the study, said: “Obesity and type 2 diabetes can lead to very serious and potentially life-threatening conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. 

“There is a real need to find new medicines so we can improve and save the lives of many patients. 

“Although this is a small study our new combination hormone treatment is promising and has shown significant improvements in patients’ health in only four weeks.  Compared to other methods the treatment is non-invasive and reduced glucose levels to near-normal levels in our patients.”

It is estimated that one in four adults is now obese and the problem is forecast to get worse in coming decades. 

For the study, twenty-six obese patients with prediabetes (when blood glucose is too high but not high enough to be classified as diabetes) and those with diabetes were recruited to the study at Hammersmith Hospital in London from July 2016 to October 2018.

In Pictures: 10 biggest health threats in 2019 as revealed by WHO [Microsoft GES]

Fifteen patients were randomly selected to receive the hormone treatment and 11 patients were given a saline (salt water) infusion as a placebo over a four-week period.

The team also recruited 21 patients who had undergone bariatric surgery and 22 patients who followed a very low-calorie diet to compare the results.

In the trial, patients on the hormonal treatment lost an average of nearly 10lbs (4.4kg), compared with 5.5 lbs (2.5kg) for participants receiving a saline placebo. The treatment also had no side effects.

The changes in weight were 1.5 stone (10.3kg) for bariatric patient and 1.3 stone (8.3kg) for patients who followed a very low calorie diet.

Professor Tan said it could even prevent people from developing diabetes of reverse the condition.

“This is a distinct possibility if we can, with a long treatment, get patients to lose between 10 - 15 per cent of weight.

“Although the weight loss was smaller, using the infusion would be preferable as it has fewer side effects than bariatric surgery. 

“This result shows that it is possible to obtain some of the benefits of a gastric bypass operation without undergoing the surgery itself.  If further trials are successful, in future we could potentially give this type of treatment to many more patients.”

The hormone cocktail also brought blood sugar down to almost normal levels compared with surgery where levels were variable and some patients were left with low blood glucose.

The research was published in the journal Diabetes Care and presented at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting in San Francisco.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Telegraph

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon