Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wouldn’t it be Great if You Could Pop a Pill and Lose Weight?

And wouldn't it be great if that pill weren't something advertised on late-night TV, but rather a legitimate treatment? A drug called rimonabant, introduced in Europe, seemed to fit the bill at first, but it was pulled from the market in late 2008 due to concerns about psychiatric side effects.

The story doesn't end there, though. New research on animals suggests that a second generation of drugs may treat obesity without those side effects. A presentation at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden, revealed a treatment that has the same weight-loss effect as rimonabant, but without impacting the brain.

What's different? The new drug, currently called TM38837, does not affect peripheral organs and tissues. Rimonabant, however, didn't discriminate. According to earlier research, rimonabant doubled the risk of disorders such as depression and suicide.

In their new work, scientists tried the second-generation drug on mice and rats. After a five-week course of treatment, the mice had lost 22 to 26 percent more weight than mice in a control group. The rats had lost 14 percent more than the controls. In both cases, weight loss from TM38837 was the same as weight loss from rimonabant. Separate studies, including dissections and behavioral tests, showed that the drug was less likely to impact the brains of test animals...

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