Researchers Create “Surgery In A Pill” To Treat Type 2 Diabetes

The team's experimental pill forms a transient intestinal coating that blocks absorption of sugar in food. ADragan/Shutterstock

When it comes to maintaining a healthy body, medical experts have long maintained that there is no “magic bullet” that can replace a good diet and exercise, regardless of what shady supplement infomercials, Dr Oz, or Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop are currently claiming.

For the hundreds of millions of people struggling with type 2 diabetes worldwide, lowering their blood sugar enough to relieve disease symptoms thus requires a consistent and strict regimen of lifestyle modifications and various medications. When these interventions are not enough, patients can undergo gastric bypass surgery – an operation that reduces caloric intake by reducing the size of the stomach and connecting it to the lower small intestine, bypassing the upper intestine. This digestive reshuffling is known to be very effective at relieving type 2 diabetes through mechanisms independent of weight loss.

Yet because this procedure makes significant permanent changes to the digestive tract and is not without its own risks, very few patients go through with it.

Hoping to find a non-invasive alternative, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School began investigating whether any safe-for-consumption materials could block absorption of glucose by temporarily coating the inside of the small intestine. Following several years of tinkering, the team has developed an experimental product that seems, given the promising findings from a study conducted in rats, to come pretty darn close to a magical solution.

Alila Medical Media/Shutterstock

 

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