The ability to suppress hunger is a holy grail for many obesity researchers — as well as people who want to lose large amounts of weight. And now it looks as if a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins have figured out a non-invasive way to lower appetite by preventing the body from manufacturing the "hunger hormone" ghrelin. They do it by chemically vaporizing a blood vessel that feeds the top section of your stomach, called the fundus. As long as it's nourished with a steady blood supply, the fundus makes about 90 percent of your body's ghrelin. Once researchers use sodium morrhuate to dissolve the blood vessels that feed the fundus, your hunger aches will disappear. Though they've only tested this hunger-killing technique in pigs, the researchers hope it can become a non-invasive alternative to bariatric surgery, where a portion of the colon or stomach is removed to suppress appetite. Said Johns Hopkins bioengineer Aravind Arepally, who worked on the study:
Obesity is the biggest biomedical problem in the country, and a minimally invasive alternative would make an enormous difference in choices and outcomes for obese people. Appetite is complicated because it involves both the mind and body. Ghrelin fluctuates throughout the day, responding to all kinds of emotional and physiological scenarios. But even if the brain says "produce more ghrelin," [this technique] physically prevents the stomach from making the hunger hormone.
Using chemicals to dissolve the blood vessels that feed your upper stomach sounds a bit extreme, but it could save the lives of people whose obesity has led to health problems. And it's a lot less extreme than removing parts of your colon. Researchers Suppress Hunger Hormone [via Radiology]