A 'SLEEVE' implant that takes 15 minutes to administer could revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
By John Reynolds
A wide-ranging study is to provide "definitive evidence" that the tiny EndoBarrier could be a more effective treatment than diet, exercise and medication in the fight against the disease.
Medics have hailed the implant as potentially a game-changer while Diabetes UK said the new study could prove "vital" in treating a disease which impacts nearly 3m people in the UK.
Professor Julian Teare, who is leading the new study into EndoBarrier, has lauded the treatment's ability to bypass surgery.
Professor Teare said it could help " treat thousands more people living with type 2 diabetes every year".
EndoBarrier has already been successfully trailed during a 12-week study, which boasted remarkable results.
Patients showed a dramatic drop in blood glucose levels withn weeks of receiving the implant reducing the need for diabetes medication.
Furthermore, patients in the trial also achieved significant weight loss similar to that seen following gastric band surgery.
Now, the treatment is being tested over a 24-month period before its expected roll out into the market in the next few years.
James Byrne, a consultant surgeon and co-lead on the 12-week study, said: "We know weight loss surgery is currently the most effective and longest-standing treatment option for type 2 diabetes.
"However, it is not the right approach for everyone and will not significantly impact the epidemic of type 2 diabetes we see in the UK.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious and growing problem that can lead to devastating complications and early death. Studies like this one are vital for helping us find new treatments to allow people to manage the condition more effectively.
Dr Richard Elliott, Diabetes UK Research Communications Manager
"Other strategies for this condition are urgently required and our research will confirm whether or not EndoBarrier therapy can help to deliver and, more importantly, sustain improvements in diabetes control."
The treatment works by placing the EndoBarrier into the small intestine via the patient's mouth.
The EndoBarrier is a balloon-type device made from flouropolymer, a material known for its high resistance to acids.
It takes just 15 minute to put in place and acts as a barrier to prevent food being absorbed.
Dr Richard Elliott, Diabetes UK Research Communications Manager, said: "Type 2 diabetes is a serious and growing problem that can lead to devastating complications and early death.
Studies like this one are vital for helping us find new treatments to allow people to manage the condition more effectively.
Though less invasive than weight loss surgery, the approach on trial still involves a general anesthetic and so won't be for everyone.
Nevertheless, we will look forward to the results of this work with interest.
At present, the best way to manage Type 2 diabetes is by taking medication prescribed by your doctor and by maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and by eating a healthy balanced diet that is rich in fresh vegetables and fruit and low in salt, fat and sugar."