New HU/Hadassah prototype to help fight on obesity

HU/Hadassah prototype of easily insertible gastric sleeve could eventually reduce world obesity without bariatric surgery.

By
August 29, 2013 18:03
2 minute read.
New type of gastric sleeve to block food absorption and fight obesity.

gastric sleeve 370. (photo credit: Courtesy The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

To replace bariatric surgery in the fight against obesity, an interdisciplinary group of students and medical professionals have developed a prototype for an insertable gastric sleeve to stop the absorption of food in the intestines.

Students from the Biodesign program of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – a multidisciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation – working with gastroenterologists, surgeons and clinicians from Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, worked for over a year to design the nonsurgical prototype called MetaboShield.

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The curving plastic tube can be inserted down into the throat, through the stomach and then to the duodenum of the intestine without surgery, general anesthesia or damage to the tissue.

To help patients who are obese, the gastric sleeve is aimed at blocking the absorption of excess food in the intestine. But it could take five years until the device can undergo clinical testing and be approved for use.

At present, bariatric surgeons perform general surgery to reduce the size of the stomach by inserting a sleeve or a ring or removing part of the stomach so less food can be ingested and digested.

In the United States alone, the rapidly growing obesity epidemic and its complications are estimated to cost its economy over $140 billion annually, due to loss of productivity and medical complications.

The MetaboShield could be inserted with sedation (due to the natural gag reflex), according to Dr. Yaakov Nahmias, director of the HU Center for Bioengineering and co-head of the biodesign program at the university.

He told The Jerusalem Post that the transparent plastic device is a “mechanical prototype that does not move from place despite the peristalsis [movement] in the intestine.”

Nahmias said it hadn’t been decided which type of plastic would be used, but that there is a large availability of synthetic material that the body won’t reject when left permanently inside.

The idea began with Dr. Ishay Benuri-Silbiger, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Hadassah, who said that the natural C-shape anatomy of this region helps keep the sleeve in place, blocking food absorption without damaging the intestine.

Nahmias stressed that when eventually put onto the market, the device could save lives, as users would not have to undergo general anesthesia and surgery, and many people who are very-obese would be encouraged to undergo the safe insertion of the sleeve so they wouldn’t eat too much.

The Boston Scientific company “is now looking at it,” said Nahmias. “But we remain years before application.”

The students and doctors believe that the new endoscopic procedure could appeal to millions of obese people who fear the risks of complications from current gastric bypass procedures.

“This is a huge untapped market,” said Yair Timna, an MBA student leading the project’s business development.

Other group members include Dr. Elad Spitzer, an orthopedic surgeon, Gabi Menagen, an MBA student, and Esther Feldblum, an engineering student.

The Biodesign program was created by the university and Hadassah in partnership with Stanford University. The program takes outstanding medical fellows, bioengineering and business graduate students, and tutors them in the science and practice of bringing a medical innovation to the market.


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