New drug helps fat monkeys to slim down
CHICAGO (Nov 9, 2011): An experimental drug that chokes off the blood supply to fat cells helped obese monkeys slim down, a sign that it may work in people, too, US researchers said on Wednesday.
The drug, known as Adipotide, takes a different approach from other weight loss medicines, which have generally tried to control appetite, alter the absorption of fat or increase metabolism in order to help people lose weight.
"Development of this compound for human use would provide a non-surgical way to actually reduce accumulated white fat," said Renata Pasqualini of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, whose study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The drug works by seeking out and sticking to proteins on the surface of blood vessels that feed white fat cells – the kind that gathers under the skin and around the middle.
Once attached, the drug releases a synthetic molecule that triggers a natural process of cell death that kills the fat cells.
The latest study involved 15 monkeys that became obese in much the same way humans do – by overeating and getting too little exercise.
Ten monkeys were treated and five were the control group. At the end of the study, treated monkeys lost an average of 38.7% of their total body fat, compared to 14.8% for the control animals.
Treated monkeys also lost 27% of their abdominal fat.
Monkeys remained bright and alert throughout the study. The chief side effects were increased urine output and slight dehydration, both symptoms of mild kidney failure. But these were reversible and varied by dose.