New Drug Shows Possible Long-Term Maintenance Of Weight Loss

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Elastic bands and exercise programs are a few of the many avenues available to consumers who would like to lose weight. However, new studies have been conducted on treatments that could lead to long-term weight loss. Researchers believe that the drug could help in losing weight and keeping weight off for longer periods of time.

The drug, which ups the body´s sensitivity to the hormone leptin, is featured in a recent edition of the journal Cell Metabolism. Leptin is a natural appetite suppressant. The drug has been examined in trials with mice and researchers believe that the findings could have implications for the development of treatments to target obesity in humans.

“By sensitizing the body to naturally occurring leptin, the new drug could not only promote weight loss, but also help maintain it,” explained senior study author George Kunos, a representative of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in a prepared statement. “This finding bodes well for the development of a new class of compounds for the treatment of obesity and its metabolic consequences.”

In the past, leptin supplements alone have not been completely successful in helping to decrease body weight in humans. It´s believed that the body cannot respond to it as it is desensitized to the hormone by cannabinoid receptors, which are found to produce feelings of hunger with the use of marijuana. As such, researchers believe that, if the canniboid receptors are blocked, this may lead to successful weight loss in the long-term.

Based on the knowledge of canniboid receptors, the investigators created anti-obesity drugs that could focus on cannaboid receptor type 1 (CB1R). In the first couple months of 2006, rimonabant, a CB1R-binding drug, was sold in Europe but sales were later discontinued due to psychiatric side effects like anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide. The scientists worked on developing a CB1R-targeting drug that would decrease the side effects and focus on CB1R without entertaining the brain. The new compound, JD5037, kept the appetite of obese mice low, leading to weight loss and increasing their metabolism health. The mice were also desensitized to the hormone leptin, which suppressed their appetite. The researchers saw that the mice did not demonstrate anxiety or other behavioral side effects.

Researchers believe that the new drug could be a possible solution to issues related to obesity.

“Obesity is a growing public health problem, and there is a strong need for new types of medications to treat obesity and its serous metabolic complications, including diabetes and fatty liver disease,” commented Kunos in the statement.

The research provided by the scientists at the NIAAA follows a host of studies on obesity. One study featured in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants looked at the cardio risk factors that are found in children who are severely obese. Scientists from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam conducted a nationwide prospective study from July 2005 to July 2007. In the project, pediatricians reported all new cases of severe obesity in children between the ages of two to 18 years of age. These doctors were also required to complete a questionnaire on cardiovascular risk factors and sociodemographic characteristics. Within the study period, the investigators noted that 500 children were reported as having severe obesity. Of the children who were severely obese, 62 percent already showed one or more cardiovascular risk factors.

“In conclusion, a high number (2/3) of severely obese children, even those ≤12 years of age, have cardiovascular risk factors,” the authors wrote in the report. “Internationally accepted criteria for defining severe obesity and guidelines for the early detection and treatment of severe obesity and comorbidity are urgently needed.”

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