Shares Plunge After Anti-Obesity Device Fails Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Saturday, 03 October 2009 02:04

An implantable device that is designed to periodically block transmission on the vagus nerve failed to meet the primary and secondary efficacy goals.

Initial analysis of  EnteroMedics' (NASDAQ:ETRM) Maestro anti-obesity device was not good and the company's shares plunged more than 70%.

"We are disappointed in the preliminary findings and plan to undertake a thorough analysis of the study data," said Mark Knudson, the company's CEO.

Maestro is an implantable device that is designed to periodically block transmission on the vagus nerve. The device is also considered to be a less invasive alternative to existing surgical weight loss procedures.

The vagal nerves begin in the brain and extend to multiple organs and regions of the digestive system. Each vagus nerve provides direct two-way communication between the brain and the digestive system without the additional spinal cord processing of impulses that is typical for most other human nerves.

The vagal nerve trunks are approximately 3-4 mm in diameter and course along the anterior (front) and posterior (back) of the esophagus before they branch out from the esophagus to the stomach, pancreas, duodenum and gall bladder.

The mechanisms responsible for obesity and the role played by the vagal nerves are not yet fully understood. Vagus nerve function appears to play a significant role in enabling multiple mechanisms including:

  • Expansion of the stomach as food enters.
  • Stomach contractions that break food into smaller particles.
  • Release of gastric acid to continue food processing.
  • Emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine.
  • Secretion of digestive pancreatic enzymes that enable absorption of calories.
  • Sensations of hunger, satisfaction or fullness.

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