The anti-obesity scene is abuzz with news about a bright & shiny new weight loss drug called Adipotide.
This blub-busting jab born of a revolutionary approach to cancer treatment (yup…you heard right) causes rapid weight loss and improved metabolic function in monkeys (our closest cousins), scientists have found.
In the study, 10 obese female rhesus macaques lost an average of 11% of body weight and 39% of fat deposits over a month of follow-up, after completing four weeks of daily adipotide injections with no forced changes in diet or exercise. The drug lowered the animals’ Body Mass Index (BMI) and trimmed their waistlines.
And it’s not just fat loss – the obese monkeys saw a drastic improvement in insulin sensitivity (an indicator for metabolic diseases like diabetes).
What’s more intriguing is the way it works: The futuristic drug has a “homing agent” which recognizes and selectively destroys the blood vessels nourishing fat cells. Without its blood supply, the fat quietly withers away and is metabolized safely by the liver. Previous weight-loss medications try to help the body lose fat by reducing intestinal fat absorption, by increasing metabolism to burn calories, or by controlling the brain’s hunger pangs to reduce food intake.
Coming in the wake of multiple setbacks for major prescription diet pills which have been taken off the market, the early success of this adipose-seeking magic bullet may open a new front in the war against obesity and its accompanying complications without surgery.
However, the fat-seeker seems to share some of the problems that have plagued diet pills in the past – drug safety. It appeared to cause some dehydration, a moderate drop in the monkeys’ phosphorus and potassium levels and small kidney lesions in some. Those effects disappeared after the drug was discontinued, but obviously the researchers still need to tinker with the drug structure before human trials. And hopefully, they can come up with an oral version to save us from injections too!
Until then, it’s good-old diet, exercise and non-invasive targeted adipose-antagonistic treatments on resistant areas.