THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug tested in mice might one day help people lose weight and keep it off long-term, according to researchers.
The drug, called JD5037, increases sensitivity to the hormone leptin, a natural appetite suppressant found in the body, according to a study in the July 26 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.
"By sensitizing the body to naturally occurring leptin, the new drug could not only promote weight loss, but also help maintain it," senior study author George Kunos, of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in a journal news release. "This finding bodes well for the development of a new class of compounds for the treatment of obesity and its metabolic consequences."
Leptin supplements alone are not effective at helping people lose excess weight, according to the release. It's believed that this is due to desensitization to leptin, which means that the body can no longer respond to leptin.
In this study, the researchers found that JD5037 suppressed the appetite of obese mice and led to weight loss, in part by resensitizing the mice to leptin.
Scientists note, however, that research with animals often fails to provide similar results in humans.
"Obesity is a growing public health problem, and there is a strong need for new types of medications to treat obesity and its serious metabolic complications, including diabetes and fatty liver disease," Kunos said.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers tips on safe and effective weight-loss programs.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Cell Metabolism, news release, July 26, 2012
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