Eman Ahmed's epic struggle as the world's heaviest person cast a spotlight on acute obesity - and the genetic disorder she suffered from - LEPR (leptin receptor protein). While several other people, including the three kids from Gujarat suffer from a similar disorder, there is currently no cure for it, just clinical trials.
Add to that list city-based bariatric surgeon Dr Shashank Shah, who has become the first Indian doctor to get a US-based pharma company's approval to put a patient suffering from the disorder into a clinical trial in Germany. "After trying for three years, Aegerion Pharmaceutical has decided to enroll one of my patients suffering from leptin receptor deficiency. Now, I am searching for a patient who can benefit from it," said Dr Shah, Laparoscopic & Bariatric Surgeon at Hinduja Healthcare and President of All India Association for Advancing Research in Obesity.
Explaining how once a patient is finalised, the procedure, Dr Shah says, "If a patient suffers from LEPR, he/she needs to take an injection everyday that can help in developing the hormone. This helps in controlling excessive hunger thus preventing weight gain. So, the patient will be sent to Germany, where he/she can get the injections free of cost. After the initial training, they return with the injections and after three months, make another trip to Germany to get a fresh supply," said Dr Shah. However, from thereon, the injection will have to be taken through the life span of the person.
Original candidate succumbed
Three years ago, Dr Shah had a one-and-a-half-year-old patient Shrijit Hingankar, who was diagnosed with the mutation. Despite repeated attempts to enroll him in the trial, they were unsuccessful and last month, he succumbed to another disease.