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Sealing artery to hunger hormone passes key test

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:21 p.m.

Sealing off an artery that supplies blood to the portion of the stomach that produces the hunger- promoting hormone ghrelin reduced appetite and triggered weight loss in the first study of the approach in human volunteers.

The experiment involving five obese patients in Tbilisi, Georgia, found the procedure led to an average weight loss of 30 pounds within the first month and 45 pounds after six months, said lead researcher Nicholas Kipshidze. The results will be presented this weekend at the American College of Cardiology meeting in San Francisco.

The researchers threaded a catheter from an artery in the groin to the gastric artery, where they released tiny beads that blocked off blood flow to the stomach, Kipshidze said in a telephone interview. While the 30-minute procedure led to less weight loss than standard bariatric surgery, it wasn't as invasive and it is faster, he said. Three patients had stomach discomfort, though there were no other complications, he said.

“We are cutting off blood flow to the fundus of the stomach, which is known as the area where a lot of hormones are initiated,” said Kipshidze, who led the study when he was the physician-in-chief at Republican Hospital in Tbilisi. “I believe it may become a good alternative to bariatric surgery,” Kipshidze said. “Still, five patients is only five patients. I am cautiously optimistic.”

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