Wednesday, 30 March 2011

This 'pacemaker' fights diabetes

LONDON: Scientists have developed a new pacemaker-style device that delivers mild electric pulses to the stomach, an innovative medical gadget which they say could help tackle type-2 diabetes more effectively. When implanted under the skin, the matchbox-sized gadget, called the Diamond — or Diabetes Improvement And Metabolic Normalisation Device — stimulates the stomach muscles while the patient is eating.

This helps boost muscle movement resulting in the release of more insulin — the hormone responsible for removing excess sugar in the blood. Previous studies on this device have suggested that it results in the long-term lowering of blood glucose levels in overweight people with type-2 diabetes.

Developed by medical device company MetaCure, the device delivers electrical stimulation through two wires placed in the muscular layer of the stomach.

The wires are tunnelled under the skin to the generator. The device automatically senses when a patient is eating, by detecting when the stomach starts to naturally contract, and fires small painless electrical signals into the muscles of the stomach. This tricks brain into thinking more food has entered the stomach than the person has actually eaten . To deal with this supposedly large meal, the brain boosts insulin production as well as triggering the release of hormones that suppress appetite.

This means that the patient feels full much sooner than normal . A wireless charger system allows the patient to recharge the device at home by placing the charger over the abdomen for 45 minutes, once a week.

Trials at the Medical University of Vienna showed the device reduced blood glucose levels by a quarter over three months.

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