Health scientists have developed a new anti-obesity drug that is taken by a weekly injection and apparently suppresses appetite to aid weight loss. The injection starts to work immediately and effectively helps to control hunger. The drug tricks the brain into thinking that your stomach is full. While this is not really the best way to lose weight, it may provide a kick-start that so many people desperately need.
Scientists are very hopeful that this is going to be a safe way for people to manage their appetite. It has been hailed the “holy grail” in the fight against obesity. So, what is this new drug?
Based on Somatostatin
The new drug is based on somatostatin, which is a growth hormone-inhibiting hormone that regulates the endocrine system, which itself controls hormone levels.
The drug was developed by Dr Haffer from Braasch Biotech LLC. In tests subjects lost a significant amount of weight within a few weeks. However, so far tests have only been carried out on pigs, dogs, mice and cows.
Braasch Biotech are now talking with the FDA with the hope of starting human trials.
What About The Side Effects Of Somatostatin?
Somatostatin has several side effects, of which loss of appetite is one of them. Cancer Research UK have a page on Somatostatin analogues, which are used in cancer treatments. The side effects listed are:
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick
- Feeling bloated
- Stomach pain
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Increased diarrhea (this is rare)
So while somatostatin may aid weight loss, we do not yet know if the drug which is being developed can prevent the other side-effects. Stomach pain and tiredness could stop this product getting to market. However, the drug is based on somatostatin which suggests that it has been heavily modified.
“Several Years Away”
Dr Haffer has said that it will be years before the drug is ready for the market. However, Braasch Biotech have been awarded the first US patent for a vaccine treatment for obesity. US Patent 8,425,914 covers vaccination treatments for obesity, and Braasch Biotech announced in May 2013 that they had successfully applied for the patent.
Cheapest Way To Treat Obesity?
Often a key question when a new treatment arises is the cost of the treatment. However, it seems that this drug could actually save the NHS millions every year as currently the costs of treating obesity related disease, such as diabetes, is increasing year on year as more people suffer from obesity.
If doctors can prescribe this drug to overweight patients who are trying to lose weight, the long term health benefits will result in reduced costs for the national health service.
Other Appetite Control Jabs – PYY3-36
Research into obesity cures has been carried out for over a decade by Imperial College. The injection administers a protein called PYY3-36. The PYY hormone is naturally released into the body after we eat and is one of the processes that take place to help reduce hunger naturally.
Scientists have observed that overweight people tend to carry around 33% of the PYY3-36 that is found in lean people. It is speculated that a natural reduction in PYY3-36 leads to increased appetite and therefore greater risk of obesity. It is therefore argued that prescribing this medicine is re-balancing the natural state of the human body.
What About The Side Effects Of PYY3-36?
But the big question now is, what are the side effects? All drugs have side effects, and any drug which affects appetite can potentially lead to under-eating and malnutrition.
It is thought that as it is a natural substance there are no obvious side effects. However, trials did show that both obese and lean people had a dramatic reduction in appetite. If abused this drug could lead to serious weight problems. If it is only administered by a nurse this should not pose a problem, however, with the huge number of overweight people, it is likely that injections will be self administered, especially by those who are already suffering with Type 2 Diabetes.
Also, some research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology this year shows that the PYY3-36 hormone is linked with behavioral changes and schizophrenia.
The PYY3-36 drug was developed by scientists from the Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospital in London. Professor Steve Bloom explains that obesity is a disease which needs to be treated. People are not merely eating too much because they are greedy, but because of an imbalance in the body.
The cause of this imbalance is not known, however Dr. Peter Attia is also in agreement that obesity is not a simple problem with simple solutions. One possible cause of obesity is that years of poor diet and lack of exercise affect normal body function, which then increases appetite and eventually causes obesity.
It is important to note that this research has been ongoing for many years. In fact, the first reports of PYY3-36 injections was in 2002 which were in collaboration with Professor Steve Bloom. However, there have been no new articles on the Imperial College London on the topic of PYY3-36 in the past year – maybe this line of research came to a dead end?
“Effects of novel vaccines on weight loss in diet-induced-obese (DIO) mice” by Keith N Haffer, Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 2012, 3:21 doi:10.1186/2049-1891-3-21. Published: 9 July 2012
“First US Patent for Vaccine Treatment of Obesity Is Awarded to Braasch Biotech LLC“, May 09, 2013. Marketwired
“Antiobesity “flab jab” vaccine works in mice” Braasch Biotech Press Release, 25 September 2012.
“Hormone Found To Reduce Appetite By A Third”, 7 August 2002, Imperial College London. (web page removed)
“Top-ups of naturally occurring gut hormone could help treat obesity”, 3 September 2003, Imperial College London. (web page removed)
“The fat controller – understanding why we overeat” 12 September 2003, Imperial College London. (web page removed)
Administration of the Y2 Receptor Agonist PYY3-36 in Mice Induces Multiple Behavioral Changes Relevant to Schizophrenia. by Stadlbauer U, Langhans W, Meyer U. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Jun 10. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.146.