Entries in Morbid Obesity (2)


New Drug Attacks Fat, Helps Obese Monkeys Slim Down

Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Scientists have developed a new drug that attacks excess body fat, and a new study reports that it helped a small group of obese monkeys lose weight. Experts say the drug's fat-attack mechanism is an intriguing approach to weight loss, but questions remain about the drug's effectiveness and safety in humans.

Previous diet drugs tried to help the body lose fat by increasing metabolism or by controlling the hunger pangs that make people want to eat more. But researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston designed the new drug Adipotide to attack the fat itself by destroying the blood supply that keeps it alive.

The researchers tested the drug in a small group of obese monkeys. After four weeks, the monkeys lost an average of 11 percent of their body weight. The drug also lowered the animals' Body Mass Index (BMI) and trimmed their waistlines. Lean monkeys who took the drug did not lose weight, suggesting that the drug selectively targeted the fat in obese monkeys.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers say the fact that the drug worked in monkeys, the closest animal relatives of humans, makes them hopeful that the drug could be safe and effective in humans. The monkeys in the study were also similar to people in the way they packed on the pounds – by overeating and not exercising.

But despite the promise of these early results, the drug seems to share some of the problems that have plagued diet drugs and "magic bullet" obesity treatments in the past. Four weeks after the monkeys stopped taking the drug, they began to regain their weight.

Dr. Keith Ayoob, associate professor in pediatrics in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., said that fact makes the drug like many of its less-than-magical predecessors.

Arap acknowledged that the drug didn't seem to help the monkeys keep weight off, but he noted that the animals didn't change their lifestyles or diet the way that humans can.

Even if Adipotide proves to be successful in humans, the drug would have to travel the long regulatory road required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it could be sold for weight loss. Experts have noted that the agency's approval process seems to be more rigorous for drugs aiming to fight obesity. The FDA nixed three weight-loss drugs submitted for approval in 2010, citing safety concerns.

Currently, only one drug is FDA-approved for weight loss: orlistat (sold as Xenical or Alli).

But the drug causes a number of unpleasant and damaging side effects, including liver damage, pancreatitis and kidney stones, according to a report from the consumer watchdog Public Citizen in April.

Adipotide produced some side effects in the monkeys in this current study, particularly in the kidneys. But the researchers noted that these were "generally mild and reversible."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lap Band Surgery Might Not Be the Solution for Super Obesity

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- Almost half of the patients who have elected to have lap band surgery for obesity eventually need to have the devices removed due to erosion or other malfunctions, researchers say.

Morbid obesity is a serious health condition that can interfere with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking.  It can also lead to reduced life expectancy.

A laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, commonly referred to as a lap band, is an inflatable device that is placed around the top portion of the stomach, via laparoscopic surgery, in order to treat obesity. 

A new study has assessed the long-term effectiveness and safety of such banding for for morbid obesity.  Dr. Jacques Himpens, of Saint Pierre University Hospital in Brussels and colleagues, evaluated 82 patients with an average age of 50 within 12 years after having the surgery. 

The researchers reported in the Archives of Surgery that although the average excess weight loss after 12 years was about 42.8 percent, a third of the patients experienced band erosion while half of them had to have the bands removed. 

Based on these findings, the authors concluded that gastric banding may have poor long-term outcomes.

Gastric banding has come under scrutiny and a number of previously published studies have reported similarly poor long-term effects.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio