The 8th edition of IMAGE (International Meeting Advanced Gastroenterology Endoscopy), the international endoscopy course for which Humanitas hosted specialists from 31 countries, ended on June, 17.
Among the new developments, there is a phase-2 clinical trial to validate the efficacy of the first endoscopic procedure. Heat against type-2 diabetes.
Professor Alessandro Repici, Supervisor of Digestive Endoscopy at Humanitas and one of the directors of IMAGE, spoke about this in an interview for Radio24’s program “Heart and money”.

The Spread of Diabetes

“Endoscopy is the non-invasive technique. It allows doctors to get inside the patient’s body, and in particular, inside the digestive tract. A flexible tube (endoscope) goes through the natural orifices available (the rectum or the mouth).
During IMAGE, we presented the preliminary results of the study we conducted about the population of type-2 diabetics. Diabetes is really widespread all over the world, and it is often related to severe complications. For example, paying little attention to the blood sugar levels may lead to cardiovascular and kidney problems”, Prof. Repici explains.

The new Endoscopic Technique

“The technique we are developing and testing in eight hospitals in Europe, will determine a sort of rejuvenation of the duodenal mucous membrane.
The duodenum, the last part of the stomach, regulates the secretion of hormones in our body. Patients with diabetes develop different cells in this tract. In fact, cells age and are not as apt as before in reacting to the ingestion of food. When we eat, we introduce calories, and our body has to understand how to use them and where to store the excess ones. Type-2 diabetes changes these regulatory mechanisms deeply.

The endoscope reaches the duodenum with ease. Using thermoablation (removal by heat) we remove the outermost layer of cells, the malfunctioning ones, in order to allow the newer, lower cells to come up, produce hormones and regulate the metabolism. That way, are rejuvenating the duodenal mucous membrane. A necessary operation for the cells in the duodenum that don’t do their job anymore”, Professor Repici says.

The Advantages for Patients

“The results of the first phase of the study show that this technique allows patients to keep their glucose blood levels under control for a long time. But we still lack definitive results. However, they will be encouraging even if they demonstrate that the control over glucose blood levels only lasts a few years instead of being permanent. So patients would not have to choose a pharmacological therapy and their lives would be definitely better.
Moreover, an effective control is associated to a huge long-term benefit by avoiding the complications of diabetes”, Professor Repici concluded.