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Rodent of the Week: Now this is weight loss

July 17, 2009 | 12:51 pm

Rodent_of_the_week Oh, if only it would work in humans. Researchers at Indiana University said this week that they have been able to manipulate two hormones that control glucose processing to reduce body weight in mice. In their study, a single injection of the synthetic hormone in obese mice decreased their body weight by 25% and fat mass by 42% after one week, normalizing body weight and insulin sensitivity. The effect was greater from repeated treatments.

The study, published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, was based on knowledge that glucagon and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GPL-1, for short) are natural hormones that regulate glucose metabolism. Glucose metabolism influences the development of obesity and diabetes.

The researchers combined the amino acid sequences of the two hormones to create a new hormone analogue that activates the receptors for both glucagon and GLP-1 -- leading to the rapidly shrinking mice. The authors of the study caution that more research is needed before hormone analogues, such as this one, could be used in people. They wrote of the sad state of human obesity therapies:

"No single agent has proven to be capable of reducing body weight more than 5-10% in the obese population. Combination therapies using multiple drugs simultaneously may represent the preferred pharmaceutical approach to treat obesity, and there is ample precedent for combination therapy in treatment of chronic diseases. Here we present results that prove the principle that single molecules can be designed that are capable of simultaneously activating more than one mechanism to safely normalize body weight."

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.

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