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The Secret Of Suppressing Hunger May Lie In The Veins

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 4:14 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Obesity, Diabetes, Bariatric Surgery, Overweight, Obese Children

A chemical used to close vericose veins may help cut hunger.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ pigs at rest/ author: Love Krittaya


It was a treatment for varicose veins that helped cut the appetites of ravenous pigs. Now researchers believe it might help obese humans cut their craving for food.

The research out of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is published in the journal Radiology. 

Researchers injected a chemical into the blood vessels that supply the stomach.  That cut off production of the hormone ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone.  As a result the pigs ate less. Their bodies were producing as much as 60 percent less of the hunger hormone, results similar to gastric bypass surgery.

"With gastric artery chemical embolization, called GACE, there's no major surgery," Dr. Aravind Arepally of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, who led the study, said in a statement.

Bariatric or bypass surgery involves cutting off a portion of the stomach and sometimes the small intestine. An estimated 205,000 Americans have had the procedure. However, it carries potential major risks and complications.

The chemical used to kill the tissue in the blood vessels leading to the upper stomach is called sodium morrhuate, which reduces small varicose veins in the lower extremeties.

"The chemical doesn't really destroy the blood vessels but it destroys the very specific area of tissue that produces the hormones," Dr. Aravind Arepally of Johns Hopkins said in an interview with Reuters.

Dr. Arepally is talking with a pharmaceutical company to bring this technique to a medication to treat obesity. The chemical and the procedure already have FDA approval.

"Obesity is the biggest biomedical problem in the country, and a minimally invasive alternative would make an enormous difference in choices and outcomes for people,"  he said to U.S. News.

For whatever reason, obesity in animals has been found easier to treat than obesity in humans, likely because it involves mind and body.  

Dr. Arepally notes the irony of working with pigs, but adds that they have a similar circulatory system to humans. #

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