A tablet has been developed which researchers believe replicates the weight loss benefits of having a gastric band fitted.
A gastric band is a type of bariatric surgery for people who are very overweight. The procedure involves putting an adjustable ring around the top of a person’s stomach so it holds less food so the amount consumed is significantly depleted.
The Harvard Medical School team say the oral medication could help tackle obesity and therefore prevent type 2 diabetes, because the conditions share a significant link.
The pill is covered in a special gut-coating that works by preventing sugars and other food nutrients from being absorbed in the intestines.
“What we’ve developed here is essentially ‘surgery in a pill’. We’ve used a bioengineering approach to formulate a pill that has good adhesion properties and can attach nicely to the gut in a preclinical model. And, after a couple of hours, its effects dissipate,” said Dr Yuhan Lee, one of the study’s lead authors and a materials scientist from Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard.
However, the tablets have only so far been tested on rats and further, more extensive trials would need to be carried out to ensure the medication is safe for use in humans. But one of the main ingredients is sucralfate, which has already been found to be safe to treat stomach and intestine ulcers.
The findings of the study showed the blood sugar levels of rats given the tablets were 47% lower than the animals who were not given the medication.
Benedict Jephcote, Editor of Diabetes.co.uk, said: “There are a number of tablets that achieve a similar goal. For example, carb-blockers, like the type 2 medication, Acarbose helps to prevent carbohydrate being absorbed by the body.
“For those that are struggling to resist carbs and sugar, these types of medication can offer a reprieve. Ideally, the best way to achieve the same effect is to cut down on sugars and starches. In the case of sugar, cutting out sugar can help to reduce sugar cravings.”
The study has been published in the journal Nature Materials.
Editor’s note: It is possible to lose weight and come off type 2 diabetes medication by eating a healthy, real-food diet, as evidenced on our Low Carb Program. Over 40% of people with type 2 diabetes taking medication at the start the program on medication eliminate a drug from their regime at 1-year.