FLINDERS LEADS INTERNATIONAL TRIAL FOR NEW OBESITY AND DIABETES TREATMENT
Friday, 25 June 2010 00:00
A new bariatric surgery technique, developed by an international collaboration featuring Flinders University surgeons, is showing promise in the treatment of not only obesity but also Type II diabetes and hypertension.
Unlike traditional bariatric procedures which involve restricting or rerouting food or removing part of the stomach, in this new procedure two electrodes are implanted through keyhole surgery and attached to the vagus nerves at the entrance to the stomach.
A device similar to a pacemaker is then implanted just under the skin which sends electrical pulses to block the vagus nerves, which results in the patient feeling fuller and less hungry.
A Flinders team led by Professor Jim Toouli, Professor of Surgery at Flinders University, was second in the world to perform this procedure in 2006 (beaten only by a Mexican team who started earlier because of the time difference).
After successful trials in three centres around the world, the device was found to successfully aid weight loss and specialists also noted it appeared to control type II diabetes and high blood pressure quicker than other forms of bariatric surgery.
Type II diabetes is characterised by high blood glucose levels and is linked to obesity through the accumulation of fat in the liver which can cause insulin resistance.
A second international trial focussed on the implications of the procedure for 30 type II diabetes patients has recently concluded. Flinders was the largest of four trial centres, performing the procedure on 10 patients.
Professor Toouli said the trial has "shown great results" and the procedure could be a significant alternative in the treatment of type II diabetes and high blood pressure if diet and exercise fail to manage the condition.
"Because the procedure is minimally invasive, it could also be used to treat type II diabetes sufferers who are not as obese who would not normally be considering having a major operation."
However, the researchers are yet to determine why the device is more effective in controlling the conditions than traditional weight loss surgeries.
"We believe blocking the nerves could cause hormonal and neurotransmitter changes which may cause this result," Professor Toouli said. "It is now the subject of further laboratory research here at Flinders to better understand how that works."
TEENS LOSE SLEEP OVER NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Friday, 25 June 2010 00:00
Flinders investigations are leading the world in determining whether video game playing and electronic media use can have an impact on a teenager's sleep.
In a study at the Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic at Flinders, 13 teenagers were assessed over the course of a few weeks as to how long it took them to fall asleep after 50 minutes of video game playing before bedtime, or 50 minutes of watching a relaxing DVD.
The study, led by Dr Michael Gradisar, found that those who played video games before bed took nearly double the length of time to fall asleep as the DVD watchers, although the difference was only an average of three or four minutes.
As was expected, a third of the teenagers also fell asleep while watching the DVD but none fell asleep while playing the video game.
"While the difference in falling asleep was only a matter of minutes it seems a small amount of activity does seem to produce a small effect," Dr Gradisar said. "Now we want to investigate whether there will be a bigger effect on sleep if the teenagers play for longer."
Dr Gradisar's research has found sleep problems occur in up to 50 per cent of South Australian children and adolescents at some stage of their
development, and 70 teenagers have been treated at the Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic at Flinders since it opened in 2006.
The effects of sleep deprivation on young people can have "significant consequences" on their school attendance and learning and concentration levels.
"Poor sleep during teenage years has also been linked to elevated levels of depression," Dr Gradisar said.
"Parents should be mindful about even having electronic media in their kids' bedrooms - televisions, mp3 players, computers, mobile phones.
"It is well known that television viewing before bedtime is associated with young people going to bed later and getting less sleep, but even mobile phones can emit a lot of light at night which can also have an effect on a teenager's body clock."