New Experimental Drug Helps Monkeys Lose 11 Percent of Body Fat
November 10, 2011

New Experimental Drug Helps Monkeys Lose 11 Percent of Body Fat

A research team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said that obese rhesus monkeys lost 11 percent of their body weight after four weeks of treatment with an experimental drug that destroys the blood supply of fat tissue.

The researchers have designed the new drug to bind to a protein on the surface of fat-supporting blood vessels and a synthetic peptide that triggers cell death.

"Obesity is a major risk factor for developing cancer, roughly the equivalent of tobacco use, and both are potentially reversible" co-senior author Wadih Arap, M.D., Ph.D., also professor in the Koch Center, said in a press release. "Obese cancer patients do worse in surgery, with radiation or on chemotherapy -- worse by any measure."

The rhesus monkeys in the study were "spontaneously" obese, according to study author Kirstin Rarnhart.  She said the monkeys became overweight by overeating the same foods provided to other monkeys in the colony and avoiding physical activity.

The researchers used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to gauge abdominal body fat during the study, which dropped 27 percent.

"Development of this compound for human use would provide a non-surgical way to actually reduce accumulated white fat, in contrast to current weight-loss drugs that attempt to control appetite or prevent absorption of dietary fat," co-senior author Renata Pasqualini, professor in MD Anderson's David H. Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers, said in a statement.

The team said they are preparing for a clinical trial in which prostate cancer patients would receive daily injections of Adipotide for 28 consecutive days.

"The question is, will their prostate cancer become better if we can reduce their body weight and the associated health risks," Arap said in a press release.

Some prostate cancer treatments cause weight gain, and the greater weight on a patient can lead to arthritis.

The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


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