Implantable Gastric Stimulator May Make Bariatric Surgery Redundant

Currently undergoing extensive trials, a pacemaker-style device that delivers mild electric pulses to the stomach could be a new way to tackle type-2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. The matchbox-sized gadget called DIAMOND (Diabetes Improvement and Metabolic Normalization Device) ‒ a.k.a. TANTALUS™ ‒ is implanted under the skin on the abdomen, stimulates the stomach muscles when the patient is eating.

Basically, DIAMOND is an advanced minimally invasive implantable electrical stimulator used to apply gastric stimulation. Using innovative technology, the device works by enhancing the activity of the gastric muscles only when the patient eats.

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.The result is an improvement in blood glucose levels, which is often accompanied by weight loss, and reduction of blood pressure, waist circumference and blood lipid level.

Recently performed studies have shown that stimulation of the stomach using the DIAMOND system implant can induce satiety and can trigger signaling to the brain, affecting glucose and fatty acid metabolism.

The device does not put the patient at risk for hypoglycemia and helps to control your blood sugar levels without the need of adding medications. And unlike bariatric surgery, the procedure does not alter the patient’s physiology, and is completely reversible, allowing the device to be turned off or removed at any point.

Patients living with the DIAMOND system are not limited in their diet and can maintain an active lifestyle (not including contact sports or activities which could damage the implanted system). Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet contributes to the success of the treatment.

The DIAMOND system delivers a gentle stimulation to the stomach during meals. The stimulation corresponds with the body’s natural gastric physiology and rhythm, is safe, and has minimal effect on the patient’s anatomy.

Once implanted, DIAMOND operates automatically requires no activation. There is a need to charge the battery using a portable charger once a week for about 45 min. Charging is wireless, non-invasive and painless, and can easily be done while reading or watching TV.

Over 200 patients are using the DIAMOND system to date, many of them for over two years, and many for over four years. Trials at the Medical University of Vienna showed the device reduced blood glucose levels by a quarter over three months and the DIAMOND has been shown to significantly reduce blood glucose levels and blood pressure levels.

The manufacturer claims DIAMOND is better that surgical intervention, which is constantly gaining recognition as a treatment for diabetes, with 78 per cent of patients showing resolution of their diabetes post-surgery, and sustaining this status for at least two years.

However, when looking deeper into types of surgery, it seems that reversible “lap-band” procedures are significantly less effective than the more serious gastric bypass surgeries which are irreversible and come with a significant risk to the patient. Till recently, these procedures were prescribed only to the seriously obese patients but now there’s a big push to include patients with a BMI as low as 26.

Besides, despite availability of several classes of pharmacological anti-diabetic agents there is still a clear unmet need for a safe treatment that would comprehensively address the entire metabolic syndrome and will bring about weight loss with minimal requirement for patient compliance.

In the event, DIAMOND presents a significant step forward ‒ on the one hand it is very effective in both weight reduction as well as controlling blood sugar levels (maintaining both the weight and blood sugar effects for long follow-up periods), while on the other hand it is implanted in a minimally invasive, fully reversible implantation procedure – exactly the solution required for the moderate BMI population!

(At the moment, DIAMOND is not available for sale in the USA but is being tested in the country.)

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