Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) researchers have developed a new, noninvasive way to prevent and treat gastric acid reflux with the potential for patients to avoid surgery or drugs.
The research details have been published in the open-access journal Science Advances.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common and challenging digestive disorder caused by lower esophageal sphincter dysfunction or degeneration.
Chest pain and heartburn are common in patients with GERD, and some patients need to take life-long medication.
In addition to medication, current invasive surgical procedures, including Nissen fundoplication and magnetic augmentation, which require laparoscopic surgery and enhance the closure of the lower esophageal sphincter.
However, such invasive surgery comes with infection risk, while the cost of surgery is more expensive.
CUHK professor Phillip Chiu Wai-yan said the development provides a bioelectronic platform to regulate GERD using electric stimulation. He also mentioned that the concept has been tested on pig models. It proves that the E-Stent can provide continuous electrical stimulation and increase the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent gastric acid in a less invasive method.
Professor Tony Chan Kai-fung from the medical center points out that by integrating E-Stent to treat GI disorders, such as pressure sensors or other bio-sensors for physiological assessment and collecting medical data in real-time, patients can benefit from precise and personalized medical treatment.
The university medical research team is currently working on new functions for other applications in the gastrointestinal tract and planning to conduct further preclinical studies and evaluations of using the electronic stent in clinical practice.