AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Imagine your stomach constantly hurts or being so nauseous all the time that you can’t eat or drink.

Some patients who see Dr. Amol Sharma at the Digestive Health Center at AU Health are so sick that they can’t get out of the hospital because of the nausea and vomiting.

Dr. Sharma is conducting an innovative study now using magnets to help reset a group of hyperactive nerves in the middle of the back, which he thinks are responsible for a lot of these patients’ misery. Dr. Sharma is with us today, and we’re talking about gastroparesis, which affects about 2% of the population of Americans.

“It’s a rare condition, but a lot of patients have this condition. The subset of patients with gastroparesis that we’re looking at is diabetics in particular. There’s also a group of idiopathic patients where we’re not sure exactly what’s going on, not to say that we’re sure what’s going on with the diabetic gastroparesis patients, but the diabetics at least follow a similar pattern of pathophysiology or mechanistic problems that we can kind of uncover.”

Dr. Sharma and his team are looking at a magnetic stimulation therapy called ThorS-MagNT, like “Thor’s magnet.”

“So that takes us to our Marvel days because I love the superhero stuff! But just to take a step back, you know, we were having a number of these patients, and there’s only one FDA approved drug for this condition called metoclopramide, or Reglan.. but there’s an FDA black box warning that it can cause an involuntary movement of the hands and feet and a permanent tongue rolling condition. So we don’t recommend using it long term in patients. Other than that, there’s a stimulator that can be implanted, but that’s only for compassionate use. So really, other than those two treatments, we’ve got nothing for these patients.”

Right now, Dr. Sharma is conducting a three year, nearly million dollar study for 45 patients, and he’s actively looking for patients with diabetes and gastroparesis.

“So they have to actually have moderate to severe symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis… we ask our patients to keep a log of their symptoms over a week and we average their symptoms to make sure they’re moderate to severe. And the study is not only done by our site, but also by Mass General and Harvard.”

If you are interested in being part of this study, call 706-721-9875. The research coordinator will talk you through the steps that you would need to take.