Norwegian PhD student, Helene Johannessen thinks so, and alongside her clinical research team is currently undertaking medical research on laboratory rats to see if Botox could provide a legitimate alternative to costly and invasive gastric surgery. The work they have carried out so far shows promising signs that Botox could help to achieve weight loss in patients suffering with obesity.
They have tested injecting the toxin in to the vagus nerve of the stomach in the rats – this nerve is responsible for triggering hunger and also passing food through to the intestines. Botox works by paralysing this nerve to stop the hunger signal being sent to the brain, therefore Botox reducing obesity.
Over a five week period of receiving Botox injections the rats ate less and lost 20-30% of their body weight. If injections to the vagus nerve work in the same way on humans then it could mark a huge turning point in how obese patients are treated.
Miss Johannessen, who with her team is working for the Experimental Surgery and Pharmacology research project as part of their endeavour to find alternatives to the treatment of obesity, is waiting for approval from medical authorities in Norway before commencing human trials. Talking to Norwegian television channel NRK, she said:
“As a start we will be inviting patients who are candidates for obesity operations but who, for one reason or another cannot undergo one.”
Obesity currently accounts for between 2 and 8% of the global healthcare bill and for 10-13% of all deaths in certain parts of Europe.
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