(HealthDay News) — A new gastric balloon that can be swallowed like a pill and then filled while in the stomach, helping patients feel fuller sooner, is looking promising as another weapon in the fight against obesity. Findings from a European trial of the gastric balloon device are scheduled to be presented at ObesityWeek 2015, a meeting hosted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society and held from Nov. 2 to 6 in Los Angeles.

Once swallowed, the capsule descends into the stomach, where its shell dissolves. The released balloon is then pumped up with buffered distilled water via the catheter, which is removed through the mouth. The resulting grapefruit-sized (19-ounce) ball of water would then fill the stomach and curb the amount of food someone can eat before feeling satiated. After about four months, the balloon automatically deflates, at which point its thin shell is naturally excreted.

The device, called Elipse and manufactured by Allurion Technologies of Wellesley, Mass., has yet to be tested in American patients for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. Researchers say that under the best of circumstances, it won’t be available in the United States for another two to three years. However, early research involving 34 patients in the Czech Republic and Greece suggests that the noninvasive intervention is safe and effective. Over four months, patients lost an average of 37 percent of their excess weight (about 22 pounds each), the researchers report.

“Because patients get used to feeling full so much quicker with the device, they learn portion control and get used to eating less,” study author Ram Chuttani, M.D., director of interventional gastroenterology and endoscopy at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told HealthDay. “We anticipate that the improved eating habits patients develop will mean that a significant amount of the weight will stay off, even when the balloon is no longer in place.”

The trial was funded by Allurion.

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