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A New Pill to Burn Away Unwanted Fat

US scientists claim to have devised a drug that can switch on a gene to burn body fat, offering hope of an exercise pill. //

And now pop a pill and burn away all the unwanted fat. The latest achievement of the scientists at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, California in the US points in that direction.

Mice given the drug devised by them burned off fat, even when they did not exercise, and were resistant to weight gain despite a high-fat diet.

The Salk scientists assert though that the ultimate use of their drug would be to treat people at risk of obesity-related diseases like diabetes, rather than offer a "no-work six-pack" pill.

The drug mimics normal fat and chemically triggers a gene switch called PPAR-delta. Turning on this switch activates the same fat-burning process that occurs during exercise.

Lead researcher Dr Ronald Evans believes the same will occur in humans.

UK expert Dr Fredrik Karpe, from the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, is hoping to test this in the near future.

Commenting on the work, he said: "There has never been a method to 'medically' switch on fat burning before.

"The finding that PPAR-delta co-ordinates this process, not only by switching on fat burning, but also to rebuild the muscle in a way making it more fit for fat burning, is of major interest, not least as a completely novel approach for the treatment of the metabolic derangements accompanying obesity."

Many teams have been studying the genetic pathways controlling how muscle builds up and is broken down in the body.

Tests on rodents earlier too had showed that manipulating these pathways can halt muscle wastage from disuse or disease.

At least three research groups said they had identified some of the genes responsible.

Alfred Goldberg and colleagues at Harvard University in the US and a phar
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