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Diet drug undergoing tests could stop fat

Jimy Valenti

September 11, 2009

2 Min Read
Diet drug undergoing tests could stop fat

Scientists may have discovered a “miracle diet drug” that inhibits the body’s ability to create fat and cholesterol, potentially treating obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and possibly cancer.

Mice injected with the compound Fatostatin had less fat, lower blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol than obese mice on similar diets without the compound. Fatostatin stops fat before it can start allowing the obese mice to eat what they want and still lose weight.

The newly-discovered compound is unlike previous cholesterol drugs that block a single enzyme. Fatostatin inhibits fat creation at the cellular level by influencing 63 genes involved in fat synthesis, 34 of which are in cholesterol creation, said Salih Wakil of Baylor College, a co-author of the study published Aug. 28 in Chemistry and Biology, a Cell Press Journal.

“When we use this compound we lower the body’s ability to make cholesterol and fat,” Wakil said. “This is very exciting and could revolutionize how we treat obesity.”

After one month of treatment, obese mice lost 12 percent of their body weight, had lowered their cholesterol and dropped blood sugar levels by 70 percent. The mice’s liver which began heavy, pale and unhealthy, turned a vibrant healthy red and 30 percent lighter.

The estimated 60 million overweight Americans, 40 million of which are obese, shouldn’t get their hopes up just yet. It may be years before a drug is on the market. Wakil said no manufacturers are involved yet and an FDA application has not been submitted. He said animal testing could take five more years before clinical trials begin.

Fatostatin works by significantly lowering the activity of 63 genes involved in the production of fatty acids or cholesterol synthesis. These genes are controlled by a transcription factor involved in DNA. Fatostatin blocks the transcription factor by preventing it from entering the nucleus and switching on the fat-making genes, thus less fat production in mice.

Fat is also burned at higher levels when Fatostatin is present. Instead of being stored for later use, fat is sent to the cell’s power house, the mitochondria, where it is burned off.

“It is as if the mice were exercising, without any physical excursion,” said Wakil, who has been researching the enzymes involved in fat synthesis for more than 50 years. “I think Fatostatin may be helpful in treating millions of obese people somewhere down the road.”

Dr. Uesug Montonari, co-author and researcher at Kyoto University in Japan, screened 10,000 chemicals before discovering the compound which affected the genes involved in fat production.

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