New Endoscopic Procedure Curbs Hunger by Targeting Stomach Hormone

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New Endoscopic Procedure reduces Hunger

A new endoscopic procedure that involves a type of controlled burning of the stomach lining could reduce the production of a hormone that triggers hunger. That’s according to a new study that details the possible new weight-loss treatment on the horizon with what researchers called an innovative endoscopic procedure that ablates (burns) the stomach lining to reduce the production of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger. Researchers say that change could decrease appetite and produce significant weight loss. 

The clinical trial lasted six months and involved 10 female subjects considered to have obesity. This resulted in a more than 7% and 40% decrease in body weight and fasting ghrelin levels respectively. The participants reported through a validated questionnaire that their hunger was diminished by more than a third. The procedure also caused a 42% reduction in the subjects’ stomach capacity, according to a standard drink test. 

Obesity is a disease that lasts over a lifetime for an average individual. It not only affects the health but also the quality of life, healthcare cost and people surrounding them. This relatively brief, outpatient, non-surgical procedure can facilitate weight loss and significantly curb hunger, and it could be an additional option for patients who don’t want or aren’t eligible for anti-obesity medications, such as Wegovy and Ozempic, or bariatric surgery. 

The researchers said the procedure – an endoscopic mucosal ablation – targets ghrelin, which is the primary hunger hormone controlling appetite. It does so by altering the stomach lining, where the hormone is produced. An endoscopist inserts fluid that protects underlying stomach tissues, then uses a tiny device to ablate or burn the mucosal lining of the stomach’s upper portion, known as the gastric fundus. 

The feeling of hunger originates in the gastric fundus when the chamber empties, leading to increased production of ghrelin. As the gastric fundus fills with food, hunger subsides and ghrelin production dips. Obesity and weight are very complex and regulated by multiple hormone pathways and this procedure alters one of these many pathways that make it difficult for people to lose weight and maintain weight loss. The only previous proven method of reducing ghrelin was to surgically remove, or bypass, the gastric fundus. The research team said there’s currently no pharmacologic way of reducing ghrelin. Anti-obesity medications, such as Wegovy and Ozempic, use a different hormonal pathway – GLP-1. 

Doctors who analyzed the study said that if the procedure proves to be effective over longer periods in larger trials, it could complement endoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, a non-surgical weight-loss procedure that reduces the size of the stomach. It could also potentially be offered as a one-time procedure complementing or replacing other treatments.

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