November 22, 2011
Hormone-Laced Gum Could Lead To Weight Loss
Recent research out of Syracuse University could lead to a specially-designed chewing gum that could deliver an appetite suppressant and, if chewed after meals, help individuals lose weight.
The study, which was published on November 4 in the online edition of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and was led by Robert Doyle, an associate professor in the university's Department of Chemistry, centers around oral delivery of a hormone that helps make people full.
According to a Monday press release, the hormone is known as human PYY (hPYY) and is "part of a chemical system that regulates appetite and energy."
It is released into the bloodstream every time an individual eats or exercises, with quantities varying based on the amount of calories consumed in either process. Previous research has discovered that obese men and women tend to have lower concentrations of hPYY in their blood than those of normal weight -- both when they are fasting and after they have just eaten.
"hPYY(3—36) injections have shown positive effects on appetite regulations, sparking increased interest in hPYY(3—36) research," Doyle and his colleague from Australia's Murdoch University write in the abstract of their research paper. "Of great interest is oral delivery of hPYY(3—36) that can achieve clinically relevant weight-loss outcomes in what would be a highly patient compliant route."
The only problem, according to Doyle, is that most hPYY is destroyed by the stomach when it is consumed orally, and what little remains has difficulty entering the bloodstream through the intestines. So Doyle, building on previous research in which vitamin B12 was used to facilitate oral delivery of insulin, attached the hPPY hormone to the same nutritional supplement.
"Phase one of this study was to show that we could deliver a clinically relevant amount of PYY into the bloodstream," Doyle said in a statement. "We did that, and we are very excited by the results."
Now, the next step is reportedly to find a way to better deliver the combination B12/hPYY solution, possibly as chewing gum or an oral tablet. The effect, the researchers say, will be similar to the effect of nicotine gum on smokers -- it should help people curb their appetite.
"If we are successful, PYY-laced gum would be a natural way to help people lose weight," Doyle added. "They could eat a balanced meal, then chew a stick of gum. The PYY supplement would begin to kick in about three to four hours later, decreasing their appetite as they approach their next meal."
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