Could an Antibody Drug Help You Shed Pounds?
By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, November 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) – An experimental antibody that targets one of the body’s main metabolism regulators may help obese people lose weight – at least briefly.
This is one of the findings of a first study that tested the injectable drug, which mimics the effects of a natural hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). In the body, FGF21 helps regulate metabolism, calorie burning, and food intake.
The researchers found that a single injection resulted in “metabolic improvements” in overweight and obese adults that lasted for up to two months. On average, people started to eat fewer calories after a week and saw their “good” HDL cholesterol increase while their “bad” LDL cholesterol, insulin and triglyceride levels all dropped.
Beyond that, their food preferences began to drift away from sweets, and they managed to shed a few pounds – albeit temporarily.
Experts called the results “interesting”, but stressed that the work was very preliminary.
“The purpose of this study was really to determine the dose and get a feel for the proof of concept,” said Dr. Donna Ryan, professor emeritus at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She did not participate in the study.
It would take a lot more research to prove the antibody is safe and effective, Ryan said. And that, she added, would be a “long, difficult and expensive proposition.”
She highlighted the big picture, saying that there is an “excitement” in the area of obesity drug development: researchers are studying how various “molecules” in the body regulate metabolism and try to transform these molecules into drugs. The injectable drug Saxenda, approved in the United States in 2014, is one example, Ryan said.
The new research points in the same direction, she said.
The results were published on November 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
FGF21 is a hormone that helps control metabolism by stimulating certain receptors in adipose tissue, liver, pancreas and the central nervous system. Previous research has suggested that people with certain variants of the FGF21 gene tend to have a sweet tooth and a preference for carbohydrates.
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