Building upon Folkman's single paper published on this topic in 2002, Gu, who studies the role of fat tissue in cancer, decided to test whether a drug already developed to inhibit blood vessels for cancer treatment might also reduce fat.
He and his colleagues administered the drug, known as Sunitinib and approved to treat kidney and gastrointestinal tumors, to a mouse model of postmenopausal obesity. These animals, which had their ovaries removed at a young age to put them in premature menopause and fed four weeks of a high fat diet to promote obesity, received Sunitinib daily for two weeks either orally or through abdominal injections. These animals were compared to those of the same model who didn't receive the drug.
Shrinking Blood Vessels, and Fat
After this treatment, researchers found that the mice who received Sunitinib lost significant amounts of weight, with an average loss of 70 percent fat mass. However, notes Gu, their lean mass remained unaffected. Both mice who received the drug orally and those who received abdominal injections lost similar amounts of fat.
In addition to fat loss, Sunitinib also seemed to curb the animals' appetites, with those receiving the drug eating less food once treatment was completepossibly a side effect of losing the fat and the hormones it sends to the brain to stimulate food intake, Gu explains.
Gu emphasizes that more research is necessary before this drug can be tested for human weight loss. Because many angiogenesis proteins exist for various purposes throughout the body, Sunitinib may cause off-target effects that weren't immediately evident in the mouse models, he notes. Additionally, he and his colleagues plan to test whether this drug is also effective with other types of animal models for obesity.<
|Contact: Donna Krupa|
American Physiological Society