A potential weight loss drug?

Adipotide, a cancer drug, could potentially be used as an effective weight loss drug according to a study, “A Peptidomimetic Targeting White Fat Causes Weight Loss and Improved Insulin Resistance in Obese Monkeys” published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine. The study used monkeys (they have less of a biological difference to humans than rodents) to test the effect of adipotide on weight loss. This drug doesn’t work directly on the central nervous system, like most weight loss drugs.  Instead, it seems to kill fat cells by restricting the blood supply they depend on. The study reported some significant results. An LA Times article neatly summarizes the notable points of the study:

After four weeks of daily injections of adipotide and a four-week follow-up with no treatment — and without forced changes in diet or exercise — 10 obese female rhesus macaques lost an average of 11% of body weight and 39% of fat deposits.

Much of that loss came in the three weeks after the drug was discontinued, during which the treated macaques continued to become lighter and leaner.

A graph from the study depicting the effects on weight loss:

The study suggests high promise for this drug, because it works directly on the fat cells. I am concerned that the drug may have produced some kidney dysfunction, though.  The drug hasn’t been studied in people yet, so at best it will be many years before such a deug might be on the market.

Most drugs for weight loss have targeted the brain in hopes of reducing appetite, but side effects like depression, dependence, and suicide have been reported.  This is why the FDA has consistently, in the recent past, rejected weight loss drugs. .  In general, I  remain dubious because of the side effects of drugs that work on the central nervous system. The FDA is very cautious about approving weight loss drugs because people would probably take them everyday for life.  Obesity has risks, but they want to be sure drug benefits outweigh those risks.

In the meantime, my choices are: green tea and resveratrol, which may act directly on fat cells. More protein; fewer carbs; shopping; cooking; being more active, including weight training (also for women); eating breakfast; getting enough sleep are great practices to incorporate in your lifestyle.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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