It seems too good to be true.
Biomedical research studies have recently shown that gastric bypass can eliminate type 2 diabetes in only three days. In a clinical trial, a significant number of patients experienced long-term remission of their diabetes after the weight-loss surgery altered the anatomy of their intestines and stomach.
This discovery has the potential to impact millions of lives throughout the world.
Now, thanks to the financial support from the state of Louisiana and private donors, LSU’s Pennington Biomedical has the potential to lead the world in new treatments and a possible cure for type 2 diabetes
The center took an important step toward this goal in 2018 when it leveraged state and private dollars to recruit a research team led by John Kirwan, Ph.D. Kirwan is the principal investigator in the research studies showing gastric bypass’s positive health effects. That year, Dr. Kirwan, as well as his team of eleven scientists and technicians, moved their scientific work from Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to Pennington Biomedical in Louisiana.
“Our bariatric surgery research provided solid evidence this procedure could reverse type 2 diabetes,” explains Kirwan. “This has led to a change in how medicine is practiced around the world,” he adds.
“The discovery of this mechanism will yield new treatments and – with any luck – a cure for this burdensome disease.”
As is typical in scientific discovery, the answers garnered by bariatric surgery research have resulted in even more questions.
As the principal investigator of a major 5-year, National Institutes of Health-funded multicenter trial, Kirwan is now leading an examination of the long-term efficacy and durability of the surgery with colleagues from the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard University, University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington, Seattle.
“We still have to uncover the biological mechanism that brings blood sugar under control immediately after undergoing bariatric surgery,” Kirwan says. “The discovery of this mechanism will yield new treatments, such as ‘knifeless bariatric surgery’ and-with any luck – a cure for this burdensome disease.”
Knifeless bariatric surgery is a therapeutic goal for type 2 diabetes researchers who seek to replicate any or all of the health benefits of gastric bypass, without surgery.
Thirty million people in the U.S. have diabetes. In Louisiana, more than half of the state population has diabetes or pre-diabetes. Each year, diabetes costs Louisiana $5.7 billion in medications, doctor’s visits and lost time at work. In many parts of Louisiana, the prevalence of diabetes is 50% higher than the national average.
That’s why prevention and better treatment can make such a difference – for everyone.