WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug that targets and kills fat cells in the blood appears to help obese rhesus monkeys lose weight, a new study suggests.
In the future, this approach may help obese humans lose weight, according to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers.
"Targeting blood vessels of white fat tissue is a novel conceptual approach against obesity," said study author Dr. Wadih Arap, the Stringer Professor of Medicine and Experimental Diagnostic Imaging at M.D. Anderson. "Adipotide is a new drug candidate against obesity to be translated into potential clinical applications in humans."
The report was published in the Nov. 9 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
The usual way drugs work to counter obesity is either by suppressing appetite or by increasing metabolism to try to burn calories faster, the investigators noted.
However, this new drug works by attaching itself to fat cells in the blood vessels and triggering a synthetic protein that causes the cell to die. These cells are then reabsorbed and metabolized, the researchers explained.
When the drug was tried on monkeys that were naturally obese they lost about 11 percent of their body weight over a month, Arap's team found.
In addition, the treated monkeys also improved their insulin resistance, which is a marker for developing type 2 diabetes. After treatment, the monkeys used 50 percent less insulin, the researchers found.
"Moreover, the monkeys lost 27 percent of abdominal white fat after Adipotide treatment," Arap said.
When the drug was given to lean monkeys they did not lose weight, suggesting that the drug may just select obese animals.
The drug did not have any adverse side effects, the researchers said, adding that the monkeys were "bright and alert throughout, interacting with caretakers and demons
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