Obscure Drug Shows Promise in Mice
The next breakthrough in weight loss may end up being something that's already been around for more than a decade. The drug amlexanox, which has been used to treat canker sores in humans for 15 years, has now been proven to reduce obesity in mice regardless of their diet or exercise. The findings come from researchers at the University of Michigan, () and were published this week in the journal Nature Medicine. Scientists found that mice who gained weight eating a high fat diet lost that weight after being injected with the drug, even though they kept eating the same amount. After being taken off the drug, they gained the weight back. Researchers say they also allowed for other factors like the activity level of the mice, and that made no difference in the weight loss.
Dr. George Bray is the chief of the Division of Clinical Obesity and Metabolism at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. He tells KTRH the research is encouraging. "To me, they have a convincing story that this is something worth taking into the human being to test further." Dr. Bray believes amlexanox could hold a major key in combating obesity. "Their research shows (obesity) can be affected by this particular drug, both preventing its development and reversing it once it has developed," he says. "So it's a very intriguing and ingenious idea."
Whether the drug would have the same effect on humans, and whether it would be safe even if it did, are still to be determined. Clinical trials are set to begin later this year to test the drug's effectiveness on people. Dr. Bray already sees positive signs. "That it's been approved for humans by review committees in two different countries suggests that the safety level is pretty high," he says. But even if amlexanox proves to be an effective weight loss drug for humans, it cannot replace diet and exercise as the keys to solving the nation's obesity epidemic, according to Dr. Bray. "We need to make some other major changes in the way we handle our food and food supplies and our eating habits first."