September 16, 2008
Ghrelin Hunger Hormone Lowered In Pigs

Destruction of a blood vessel that feeds the top part of the stomach cuts ghrelin hunger hormone production. The expectation is that ghrelin reduction via this technique can reduce hunger and obesity.

Johns Hopkins scientists report success in significantly suppressing levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin in pigs using a minimally invasive means of chemically vaporizing the main vessel carrying blood to the top section, or fundus, of the stomach. An estimated 90 percent of the body's ghrelin originates in the fundus, which can't make the hormone without a good blood supply.

"With gastric artery chemical embolization, called GACE, there's no major surgery," says Aravind Arepally, M.D., clinical director of the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design and associate professor of radiology and surgery at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. "In our study in pigs, this procedure produced an effect similar to bariatric surgery by suppressing ghrelin levels and subsequently lowering appetite."

The problem with this approach is that it is not easily reversible or tunable. Suppose your appetite gets cut too far. Well, you could end up like an anorexic.

Using X-ray for guidance, members of the research team threaded a thin tube up through a large blood vessel near the pigs' groins and then into the gastric arteries supplying blood to the stomachs. There, they administered one-time injections of saline in the left gastric arteries of five control pigs, and in the other five, one-time injections of sodium morrhuate, a chemical that destroys the blood vessels.

The team then sampled the pigs' blood for one month to monitor ghrelin values. The levels of the hormone in GACE-treated pigs were suppressed up to 60 percent from baseline.

We need researchers to do appetite studies to show that pigs treated with this procedure experience the expected reduction in appetite.

We need dynamic finer granularity ways to control appetite. But for someone who is morbidly obese this procedure could potentially deliver substantial benefits.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 September 16 10:47 PM  Brain Appetite

Brett Bellmore said at September 18, 2008 4:44 AM:

If the point is to locally destroy tissue, I would think that you could microwave the appropriate area from a gastric probe, at lesser expense. The lesser expense would make it economically feasible to approach the desired result by increments, instead of doing it all at one go for financial reasons, and perhaps over-shooting.

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