British Breakthrough Keeps Patients From Breaking Through Their Pants
British researchers have supplied the latest ammunition for the battle of the bulge-a drug that pumps up production of a hormone that regulates appetite. The lead scientists believes in the weight-loss solution so much he’s already set up a company to translate pounds into, well, pounds.
Affecting more than half of British adults and nearly two-thirds of Americans, the breakthrough drug is aimed at curbing the obesity epidemic that costs Britain over $6 billion a year.
The hormone-based treatment fools the stomach into feeling full to prevent patients from overeating. The research, conducted by a team from Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, was published in the journal Diabetes, the world’s top publication on the subject.
Obese patients were injected with oxyntomodulin, a naturally occurring digestive hormone found in the small intestine. When oxyntomodulin is released, it signals the brain when the body has had enough to eat. Beefing up the level of the hormone suppressed appetites enough in patients for them to lose over 5 pounds per month by reducing caloric intake.
“The discovery that oxyntomodulin can be effective in reducing weight could be an important step in tackling the rising levels of obesity in society,” said Professor Steve Bloom, senior researcher at Imperial College London and Hammersmith Hospital.
“Not only is it naturally occurring, so has virtually no side effects, it could be ideal for general use as it can be self administered. Despite this, we still need to conduct larger clinical trials to test its effectiveness over longer periods.”
Over four weeks, 14 patients were given injections of oxyntomodulin three times a day. Twelve other volunteers were given only saline solution. Those given the hormone reduced their body weight by an average if 2.3 kg (just over 5 pounds), compared to one pound of loss in the control group.
This is thought to be the first long-term medicinal solution developed. Existing anti-obesity drugs produce a maximum weight loss of six to eleven pounds, with the majority of patients experiencing a regain of the weight.
The only other long term solution is gastric bypass surgery which reduces body weight by up to 50 percent.
“Obesity is fast becoming one of the biggest problems in society, affecting huge numbers in the western world, and with the latest figures showing 65 percent of American adults are overweight we desperately need new solutions.
“A reduction of up to ten percent in calorific intake would make a huge difference to the overweight, vastly improving their health. Obesity is well known as a major risk factor in all sorts of conditions, including coronary heart disease, cancer, and the development of late onset diabetes,” Bloom said.
In addition, leptin, an energy-regulating hormone was found to be lessened among the study subjects. Adipose hormones, hormones that produce fat cell storage, were also reduced.
Professor Bloom is so confident in the potential of the hormone therapy, he has already set up a company, called Thiakis, to distribute it once all trials and approvals are complete.