Gastric bypass is a life-saving surgery for some people…assuming they survive the surgery. It’s a drastic procedure with life-altering effects, making it a last resort for many people. The future may hold a better alternative, though, one that comes in the form of a simple pill. Such a development has been detailed in a recently published study.
The study was recently published in Nature Materials and comes from researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In it, researchers detail a pill that is given orally, after which point it temporarily coats the patient’s intestines with a substance that reduces blood sugar levels.
A preclinical study involving rats found that the substance could prevent nutrients from making contact with the proximal bowel, the ultimate goal being the prevention of blood sugar spikes after a meal. The idea seems to be a potential future in which this type of pill is taken before a meal.
The researchers used sucralfate, a drug used to treat ulcers, for their study. They engineered the substance and produced a “novel material” that successfully coats the intestine; it can be turned into a powder and put into a capsule for easy consumption by patients.
The researchers call their engineered substance LuCl, and say that it lowered blood sugar response post-meal — at least in rats. After three hours, the effects of the pill were found to disappear. This is a far less invasive option compared to gastric bypass surgery, which has known positive effects on obesity and diabetes.
Talking about the study is BWH’s Dr. Ali Tavakkoli, who said:
Gastric bypass is one of the best studied surgeries in the world, and we know that it can lead to many benefits including positive effects for blood pressure, sleep apnea and certain forms of cancer, and a remarkably fast and weight-independent improvement in diabetes. Having a transient coating that could mimic the effects of surgery would be a tremendous asset for patients and their care providers.