Scientists have created an injection which impersonates the impact of gastric bypass surgery.

It was successfully tested it on 14 obese people at high risk of type 2 diabetes and shown to lead to significant weight loss. On average, participants lost 4.4kg and also experienced improved blood glucose levels, with some experiencing near-normal levels.

About 6,000 gastric bands and bypasses are performed every year by NHS surgeons, but the procedures are costly and can lead to complications, including abdominal pain, chronic nausea, internal bleeding and infection.

In a bid to offer another a medication alternative to this type of surgery, a team led by Imperial College London have developed an injection which may be able to negate the need for surgery.

The researchers built on previous studies suggesting a major reason behind the success of gastric bypass surgery was down to the gut releasing specific hormones referred to as ‘GOP’ in greater numbers.

The injection uses these three hormones which combine to mimic the chemical changes experienced by people following stomach surgery: glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin and peptide YY. The first letter of each of these hormones spell out the acronym GOP. The hormones have been shown to lower appetite and improve elements of metabolism, which help towards weight loss.

In this study, 15 participants were given the GOP mixture for a month through a pump, releasing the hormones 12 hours a day, starting an hour before breakfast and stopping following dinner. They were also given dietary advice. At the same time 11 participants were given a saline (salt water) placebo.

Additionally, 21 people who previously had bariatric surgery and a further 22 people following a very low calorie (800kcal per day) diet were recruited to the research for comparison purposes. An analysis was carried out to contrast the results from all four groups of participants.

According to the results, those on the GOP treatment shed an average of 4.4kg, compared with a loss of 2.5kg in people who received the placebo. The bariatric surgery participants lost an average of 10.3kg, with the low-calorie diet group shedding an average of 8.3kg.

Lead researcher Professor Tricia Tan said: “Although the weight loss was smaller, using the GOP 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.”

Eating a healthy diet low in sugar and processed foods, such as that recommended in Diabetes Digital Media’s Low Carb Program, has been shown to help put type 2 diabetes into remissio, enabling weight loss and improved blood glucose control without the need for surgery.

The study was published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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