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USC Announces 'Huge Advance' For Treatment Of Heartburn

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — If you are one of the millions of Americans who experience heartburn, help may be on the way, researchers at the University of Southern California announced.

According to the school, an advisory group for the FDA on Wednesday endorsed the approval of a new medical device tested in clinical trials at USC's Keck School of Medicine, as well as 14 other institutions nationwide.

Dr. John Lipham led the trials of the LINX Reflux Management System at USC and called the device, "a huge advance for the treatment of reflux."

On its website, the school said the LINX Reflux Management System looks like a small bracelet-like ring of magnetic beads made of titanium.

It's implanted at the bottom of the patient's esophagus, just above a small valve that is supposed to keep stomach acid from going up the throat when people lie down.

Once implanted, the device augments the effectiveness of the natural muscle that controls that valve, USC said.

The process, which may become an outpatient procedure if approved, takes about 20 minutes to complete, according to Lipham, who says he has a list of patients waiting to be implanted.

The device is already being used in Europe.

The FDA is expected to vote on it once it's reviewed the group's recommendations, the school said.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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