Animal Study Shows That New Drug Can Boost Weight Loss
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Anyone who has struggled to drop a pound or two has, inevitably, secretly wished this could all be done by taking a magic pill. But those serious about health and wellness know there is no substitute for healthy eating and vigorous exercise. There is, sad to say, no magic pill. Or is there?
At The Endocrine Society´s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Sunday, researchers presented the findings of their study showing how a drug meant to mimic the activity of thyroid hormone can actually increase the amount of energy burned by fat tissue. As this increased fat burning escalates, it promotes weight loss in the individual.
The two kinds of fat found in humans and other mammals are differentiated by their color. White adipose tissue, or WAT, is typified by a lowered energy-burning capacity. The more energy-rich adipose tissue is brown, or BAT. The process in which the burning of adipose tissue is converted into energy is known as thermogenesis.
As WAT burns at a much slower rate, the accumulation of WAT is associated with weight gain, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and an eventual resistance to the hormone insulin. Most WAT accumulates around the torso, leading to an increased risk of several conditions and diseases collectively known as metabolic syndrome. Patients identified as having metabolic syndrome also find themselves at an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Obesity rates have been on the rise worldwide. For this reason, researchers have been searching for any way they might help to increase the body´s own fat-burning ability. In a study completed only last year, researchers had devised a genetically engineered animal model wherein the WAT was altered so it might behave more like BAT, in terms of thermogenesis. Their method, which they have termed ℠beiging´, yielded less than impressive results, however. For that reason, the potential health benefits of this method are still unclear.
“BAT has the remarkable ability to dissipate excess energy as heat, thus conferring resistance to obesity,” said the study’s lead author Jean Lin, BS, a graduate research fellow at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston, TX. “This study has uncovered a new mechanism by which thyroid hormone signaling regulates thermogenesis and metabolic rate and demonstrates the profound therapeutic potential of white fat beiging,”
This most recent study looked at an experimental drug called GC-1. It has the ability to affect adipose tissue beiging without changing the subject at the genetic level. GC-1 binds to proteins called thyroid hormone receptors. These receptors play an important role in the process of converting food into energy when activated by thyroid hormone.
Specifically, the Lin study found GC-1 was able to increase the metabolism of obese mice by more than 60 percent. With such a dramatic increase, it was not surprising to the team to witness a significant weight loss in their subjects in less than two weeks time.
“By inducing thermogenesis in white fat, the compound GC-1 gives fat cells the remarkable ability to dispose of excess calories by converting them to heat instead of storing them as lipid,” Lin said.