Experimental drug sheds monkeys weight

Washington: Obese rhesus monkeys lost on average a little more than a tenth of their body weight four weeks after taking an experimental drug that selectively destroys the blood supply to fat tissue, says a new study.

Photo: Amit

Body mass index (BMI), a height to weight ration, and waistline also were reduced, while all three measures were unchanged in untreated monkeys. Imaging studies also showed a substantial decrease in body fat among treated animals.

“Development of this compound for human use would provide a non-surgical way to actually reduce accumulated white fat,” said study co-author Renata Pasqualini, professor at University of Texas M.D. Anderson’s Cancer Center.

Previous attempts to treat obesity have predominantly focused on drugs aimed at suppressing appetite or increasing metabolism, the researchers noted, but these efforts have been hampered by their toxic side effects, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

The M.D. Anderson group designed a new drug which includes a homing agent that binds to a protein on the surface of fat-supporting blood vessels and a synthetic peptide that triggers cell death. Their blood supply gone, fat cells are reabsorbed and metabolised, according to a Texas statement.

“Obesity is a major risk factor for developing cancer, roughly the equivalent of tobacco use, and both are potentially reversible,” said co-senior author Wadih Arap, Pasqualini’s counterpart.

“Obese cancer patients do worse in surgery, with radiation or on chemotherapy — worse by any measure,” said Arap.


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