Chad Visser

Area residents diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes are expected to live longer, healthier lives with fewer health complications after participating in a trial study to help them manage their disease. They are lowering their risk of heart attack, stroke, eye disease, kidney disease and amputation.

For five patients who recently underwent a new, endoscopic patient study to treat Type 2 Diabetes at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, results have included improved blood sugars, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  They have also reported weight loss, increased energy and feeling overall improvement in their wellness. Most importantly, they are now living a healthier lifestyle by following a nutritious eating plan and being more physically active.

In late 2021-early 2022, the patients underwent the Endogenex procedure, a non-surgical treatment that promotes the regeneration of cells in the small intestine to support better management of blood sugar levels. This novel procedure is being done under an FDA-approved clinical trial with the expectation that it will eventually be approved for diabetes treatment.

During the outpatient procedure named Duodenal Mucosal Resurfacing, a doctor uses a small flexible endoscope under anesthesia to introduce a special catheter through the mouth and past the stomach to the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. This catheter is used to apply a precise, controlled, electric current to the lining of the small intestine. This delivery of energy triggers the body’s natural process of cell regeneration, replacing unhealthy cells with new cells that help the body better manage blood sugar.

CHAD VISSER

Chad Visser, a 51-year-old police officer from Ironton, had been dealing with Type 2 Diabetes since he was diagnosed in 2017. He attributes his difficulty in maintaining good blood sugar control to his long hours at work, stress and frequent dining out.  He would consume fast food during his workday and drank a lot of pop. He educated himself on eating better in an effort to control his diabetes but did not see the results he had hoped. Although it was difficult, he successfully corrected his blood sugars early on in his disease process, but then became stagnant in his efforts and both his weight and blood sugars began to increase. He started taking one medication to control the diabetes and when his numbers started increasing, he was prescribed with a second medication. He was also diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed medications for control of that as well as high cholesterol.

When he was first diagnosed, Visser’s A1C was 10%. He learned how diabetes was affecting his body and became very concerned. After meeting with dietitians, three months of dieting and not drinking pop, he was able to drop his A1C to 6.5%. To briefly explain what the A1C results indicate:  5.7-6.4% indicates prediabetes, 6.5% or more indicates diabetes. Once diabetes is diagnosed, the goal is to keep blood sugars below 7% to minimize risk of complications. Unable to keep up with his new, healthy habits, Visser’s A1C unfortunately rose to 8%.

Because Visser was concerned about going on insulin, he needed more help to improve his blood sugars. His first grandson was recently born and he hoped to have more energy to play with his family. This motivated him to undergo the procedure last November. He explained the procedure was non-invasive and said a doctor basically zapped some cells to see if they would regenerate.

Four months after the procedure, Visser has lost 30 pounds, his A1C went down to 5.7%, and he was able to stop taking the blood pressure medication.

DAMON GRAHAM

Auto mechanic Damon Graham, Aitkin, also underwent the procedure. At 49 years old, he had been dealing with Type 2 Diabetes since he was diagnosed in 2015. He didn’t like taking pills and hoped the procedure would help get him off his medications. He also thought that by participating in the study he would be able to take part in finding a treatment option for patients with diabetes other than medication. He has children and since this is a genetic disease, he is doing this in hopes that a safe, effective treatment is available for them.

Graham started treating his diabetes by taking one pill in the morning and another in the afternoon. When that stopped helping, he started taking another medication. After five years, he also needed a blood pressure medication. Graham had been drinking Mountain Dew and ate a lot of candy bars. When he began eating and drinking right, and quit pop, he lost 10 pounds and his heartburn was gone.

The patient underwent the procedure in February 2022.

Today, Graham is much healthier having lost 25 pounds and is proud his waist is two-inches smaller. His A1C has decreased and he has been able to stop some of his diabetes medications. He works out at a gym three to four times a week and feels much better.

Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive disease in which the body has difficulty maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Over time, excess sugar in the blood damages blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and other tissues in the body. Research shows that cells in the lining of the small intestine play an important role in controlling blood sugar levels. In individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, these cells may not function properly.

DR. HOWARD MCCOLLISTER

Dr. Howard McCollister, a CRMC surgeon and the study’s principal investigator, compared the new procedure to patients undergoing bypass surgery for weight loss and how their blood sugar goes into a normal range just days after the surgery. He said a person’s metabolic pathway is affected and the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach, is altered in its response to sugar and other such carbohydrates. He explained how this is important for blood sugar management because the duodenum directs the body’s metabolic response to carbohydrate intake.

In the study, patients first meet with a clinical specialist and undergo an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and other therapeutic procedures. McCollister said that the person then comes to the hospital’s pre-op area, is given an IV, and taken to the operating room where general anesthesia is administered. Endoscopically, the surgeon goes into the patient’s stomach and positions the treatment catheter under direct vision and using X-ray fluoroscopy for guidance. The treatment uses a high voltage, low amperage current to cause the superficial cells to die and grow new ones. There is no bleeding and the entire procedure takes about 40-50 minutes. The patient stays at the hospital for a short observation period and is discharged home. The individual comes back for follow-up endoscopy after four weeks to make sure the procedure did not create any issues. So far, patients have had very few symptoms, no pain and no bloating.

CRMC is the first organization in the United States to participate in the study. Mayo Clinic and University of Southern California were also approved for the trial but have not begun patient studies. The study will continue at CRMC for another four years. Larger trials will be completed for about two years until the FDA approves the procedure for actual clinic use in diabetes therapy.

DR. PAUL SEVERSON

CRMC Surgeon Dr. Paul Severson, who is working with Dr. McCollister as a principal investigator, is also pleased with the study’s profound results to date. He said patients feel better, are happier and have a brighter future. He also relayed how exciting it is work with Endogenex and be on the forefront of discovering how to help diabetics. “The company is based in Minnesota and came to CRMC to work with engineers to develop technology needed to conduct the study,” Dr. Severson said. “In the next phase of the study there will be a better device and more energy used which is expected to provide even better results. This will help millions of people; I’ve never been more excited about a study.”

A second group of patients will be enrolled in the study this summer. To qualify, candidates must have had Type 2 Diabetes for 3-10 years, currently use two to three diabetes medications, an A1C between 7.5%-10%, BMI less than 40 and be between 22 and 65 years of age. Once patients are screened for the study, they undergo the Endogenex procedure and then attend follow-up visits over the next year to assess progress and wellbeing. They undergo blood tests to monitor nutrition labs and receive lifestyle and diabetes counseling. There is no cost to participants for care provided as part of the study. A stipend for study-related expenses is provided.

To learn more about the study and potentially participating, please visit www.regent1study.com, send a message to regent1study@cuyunamed.org, or contact the coordinator at 218-546-2505.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.