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Potential obesity drug acts as a meal in a pill

| | January 8, 2015

A drug that works like an “imaginary meal” has been developed by US scientists who believe it could help combat soaring rates of obesity.

The drug mimics signals that are normally produced at the start of a meal when the body prepares for a fresh intake of food. The signals lead to a cascade of effects that burn body fat, reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and ramp up metabolism.

Researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, made the discovery after giving daily fexaramine to obese mice for five weeks. The drug was not absorbed in the animals’ bloodstreams, but instead went to work locally in their intestines, according to a report in the journal Nature Medicine on Monday.

The obese mice given fexaramine stopped gaining weight, lost body fat and had lower cholesterol levels than a control group of animals. Some of their white fat had apparently turned into the healthier brown form that is readily burned for energy.

“This pill is like an imaginary meal,” said Ronald Evans, a senior author on the paper and director of the gene expression laboratory at the Salk Institute. “It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food.”

Fexaramine activates the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) found in the gut and other parts of the body. Stimulating the receptor affects how the body produces bile acids, digests food and stores sugars and fats.

Read full, original article: Weight loss drug fools body into reacting as if it has just eaten

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