Salk Institute pill tricks body into weight loss
LA JOLLA, California (SDONA) — Salk Institute researchers announced Monday the development of an entirely new type of pill that tricks the body into thinking it has consumed calories, causing it to burn fat.
The compound effectively stopped weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar and minimized inflammation in mice, making it an excellent candidate for a rapid transition into human clinical trials, which could come in 1-2 years.
Unlike most diet pills on the market, this new pill, called fexaramine, doesn’t dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs, but remains in the intestines, causing fewer side effects.
“This pill is like an imaginary meal,” says Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratoryand senior author of the new paper, published Monday in Nature Medicine. “It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food, so the body starts clearing out space to store it. But there are no calories and no change in appetite.”
When the group gave obese mice a daily pill of fexaramine for five weeks, the mice stopped gaining weight, lost fat and had lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels than untreated mice. In addition, the mice had a rise in body temperature —which signals metabolism ramping up — and some deposits of white fat in their bodies converted into a healthier, energy-burning beige form of the tissue.
The new pill has significant commercial potential because more than a third of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, the institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.
This was reprinted from the Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego On-Line News Association (SDONA)
Photo by Doug Letterman from Berkeley, CA (Salk Institute Uploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons