Since I have been really terrible at updating the blog (but pretty good at keeping up with the facebook blog posts) I've added the widget below so that facebook cross posts to the blog.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011
Experimental Drug Melts The Fat Off Chunky Monkeys
by by SCOTT HENSLEY
Fat monkeys, rejoice!
An experimental drug that zeroes in on the blood vessels that feed fatty tissue helped obese monkeys lose quite a bit of weight in a study done by researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Great for monkeys, sure. But maybe great for you, too.
Here's why. Some diet drugs that work well in rodents don't pan out when it comes time to try them in primates, including us. This drug, called adipotide, seeks out the particular blood vessels that fatty tissue needs for nourishment, then causes cells in those vessels to die.
Deprived of a blood supply, the fatty deposits shrivel up.
Ten monkeys treated in the latest study, whose results were just published in Science Translational Medicine, lost an average of 11 percent of their body weight over a month of treatment. The most weight lost by any of the five monkeys in the placebo group was 1 percent.
On the safety side, the drug was pretty well tolerated but did show some side effects in the kidneys. Those were mild and got better on their own once treatment stopped.
The drug, given by injection, isn't going to be on pharmacy shelves anytime soon. But it has now been seen to work in five different species — from mice to monkeys.
The M.D. Anderson team is getting ready to try the drug in overweight men with prostate cancer to determine if drug-induced weight loss improves their cancers.
Ablaris Therapeutics, a unit of Arrowhead Research Corp., has the rights to the drug. M.D. Anderson and key members of the research team have a financial interest in Ablaris.
For more on the research, see this M.D. Anderson video.
Citation: K. F. Barnhart, D. R. Christianson, P. W. Hanley, W. H. Driessen, B. J. Bernacky, W. B. Baze, S. Wen, M. Tian, J. Ma, M. G. Kolonin, P. K. Saha, K.-A. Do, J. F. Hulvat, J. G. Gelovani, L. Chan, W. Arap, R. Pasqualini, A Peptidomimetic Targeting White Fat Causes Weight Loss and Improved Insulin Resistance in Obese Monkeys. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 108ra112 (2011).
Obesity, defined as body mass index greater than 30, is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and a financial burden worldwide. Despite significant efforts in the past decade, very few drugs have been successfully developed for the treatment of obese patients. Biological differences between rodents and primates are a major hurdle for translation of anti-obesity strategies either discovered or developed in rodents into effective human therapeutics. Here, we evaluate the ligand-directed peptidomimetic CKGGRAKDC-GG-D(KLAKLAK)2 (henceforth termed adipotide) in obese Old World monkeys. Treatment with adipotide induced targeted apoptosis within blood vessels of white adipose tissue and resulted in rapid weight loss and improved insulin resistance in obese monkeys. Magnetic resonance imaging and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry confirmed a marked reduction in white adipose tissue. At experimentally determined optimal doses, monkeys from three different species displayed predictable and reversible changes in renal proximal tubule function. Together, these data in primates establish adipotide as a prototype in a new class of candidate drugs that may be useful for treating obesity in humans