New GERD treatment may spell relief for sufferers

Torax Medical, Inc., a medical technology company focusing on minimally invasive treatments for digestive disorders, is currently conducting clinical trials for a new treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The treatment, known as the LINX Reflux Management System, aims to provide relief from painful reflux symptoms, especially in situations where patients may not be responding well to lifestyle changes and medications.

The LINX is a device made up of a string of tiny magnetic beads encased in titanium. During laparoscopic surgery, the beads are placed on the lower end of the esophagus, forming a ring around the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The force of the magnets pulls each bead closer to those on each side, like a rubber band, preventing stomach acid from refluxing into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Ideally, patients able to stop medications and eat a normal diet by the time they are released from the hospital on the day after surgery.

However, the procedure is not without risks. The beads can migrate from their intended location and need to be removed or replaced. And if the string of beads is not wrapped tightly enough or is wrapped too tightly, it may not work properly. But if it does work effectively, it will offer an alternative to medication for suffers of GERD. Medication that in some cases can cause serious problems for the users.

One of the most common prescriptions for patients with GERD is metoclopramide, known by the brand name Reglan. Earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning on metoclopramide after numerous reports of a serious movement disordered called Tardive Dyskinesia was linked to the use of the drug, in particular the long-term use of metoclopramide. The condition is debilitating and can continue even after the medication has been stopped. Because long-term use of Reglan is now discouraged, patients are hopeful that new treatments will make GERD more manageable.