A study published this month in the journal Science Translational Medicine explains a new and potentially revolutionary approach to weight loss, a drug called Adipotide, that basically reduces the blood supply specifically to fat cells, causing them to simply wither away.
Standard approaches usually involve trying to increase metabolism and or reducing calorie intake with appetite suppressants. Then, of course, there is always the gym or a gastric bypass.
Dr. Lou Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control program at Weill-Cornell Medical College explains :
"This is an exciting new concept in our efforts to control obesity ... But we need human studies for efficacy and more importantly, safety."
The drug was tested on monkeys to start with, and over four weeks they lost an average of 11 percent of their body mass. The drug also lowered the animals Body Mass Index (BMI) which measures the ratio of fat to other tissue. Interestingly, monkeys that were already thin did not lose any further weight, meaning that the drug was effectively targeting only fat cells and in theory cannot be overused.
Researchers are hopeful that the drug being successful on monkeys means it will translate to humans relatively easily, although of course, trials and tests may take some years.
Unfortunately though, the compound appears to share one of the same traits of many so called "magic" diet pills, and the monkeys soon showed weight gain once they stopped the medication.
Adipotide will also have to climb over all the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) barriers, which are necessarily very strict with weight loss products. The FDA killed three weight loss drugs submitted in 2010 over safety concerns, leaving only one, known as orlistat (sold as Xenical or Alli) on the market. This has been known to cause liver damage, pancreatitis and kidney stones and was red flagged by a report from the consumer watchdog Public Citizen.
Atipode did produce some side effects in the Monkeys especially in the kidneys, but the scientists say they were observed to be generally mild and reversible, although of course, long term or repeated use of the treatment might increase the problems.
If you don't want to wait for Atipode, there is always Capsiplex, which has become widely popular in the UK as an over-the-counter slimming pill. Using the thermogenic effects of capsicum, a hot and spicy herb, it has been coined the "NHS miracle fat pill."
Written by Rupert Shepherd