Weight loss resulting from Gelesis’ superabsorbent hydrogel treatment is not only a result of its space-occupying properties, the mechanical composition and structure of the material may have notable benefits for gut and metabolic health, according to the outcomes of a paper, ‘Biomimetic superabsorbent hydrogel acts as a gut protective dynamic exoskeleton improving metabolic parameters and expanding A. muciniphila’, published in Cell Reports Medicine.
The study examined both the efficacy and mechanism of action of Gelesis’ oral superabsorbent hydrogels (OSH) in preclinical models of diet-induced obesity, metabolic syndrome and NASH. The Gelesis OSH consistently resulted in weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and prevented the progression of NAFLD.
Notably, the hydrogel induced endogenous GLP-1 and rapid, unique, and consistent changes in the gut microbiota, specifically fostering the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila, which is thought to be a beneficial microbe for metabolic disorders. Through comparison with supplement fibre (inulin, psyllium and hydrogels with different mechanical properties) it demonstrated that the physical structure of the hydrogel had the unique capability to boost Akkermansia growth. The study also demonstrated that the beneficial metabolic effects were independent of the weight loss effect.
“It was exciting to see how specific structural and physical properties are important for achieving the therapeutic effect on the gut microbiota, and how hydrogel-dependent preservation of the gut barrier properties is improving insulin sensitivity, promoting liver health and inducing weight loss,” said Dr Maria Rescigno, professor at Humanitas University, group leader at Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan and senior author of the paper. “Our work shows the potential of oral superabsorbent hydrogels to be an effective and non-invasive therapeutic tool in the long-term treatment of obesity and metabolic disorders.”
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