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[IP] Insulin Pill Fights Obesity

I don't get this.  What does it mean?  If it mimics insulin can it be used as insulin or does it just mimic some of what insulin does?  Anyone know any more about it?

Insulin Pill Fights Obesity

Anti-Fat Drug Cuts Appetite, Weight Gain in Animal Testing
By   Liza Jane Maltin

Jan. 31, 2002 -- As a nation, we're getting fatter. The number of obese Americans has nearly doubled since the early 1990s, and there's no sign of a slowdown, or slimdown, in sight. We all want a quick fix, but so far, that magic bullet has eluded us. Now, researchers may have found a solution. Fat rats given a new pill that mimics insulin, a hormone naturally found in the body, ate less and lost weight.

Insulin is made by the pancreas. It regulates the body's blood sugar and helps control appetite. "Mice without [the ability to metabolize] insulin [eat too much] and are obese," write Ellen L. Air, with Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, N.J., and colleagues in their study. Injecting insulin into these mice "reduces food intake and body weight."

But any widely available, viable option for treating human obesity would need to be available in pill form. So her team developed a synthetic compound that mimics the action of insulin but can be taken orally.

They then looked at what happened to a group of 40 insulin-resistant fat rats when half the animals received a daily dose of the new drug.

The rats that received the drug ate significantly less than the untreated rats. At the end of the experiment, about two months later, the treated rats had lost a good deal of body fat, although lean muscle mass was about the same in both groups.

The researchers conducted several tests along the way to ensure that the mice were healthy and hadn't simply lost their appetites because the drug made them feel sick.

Although the drug is still a long way from use in humans, these initial experiments "provide proof-of-principle for a novel approach for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders," the researchers write.

If additional animal experiments show the compound to be safe and effective, the team can move on to human trials.

) 2002 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
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