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Anti-obesity drug Adipotide  (Source: University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center)
The new drug, called Adipotide, attacks white adipose tissue under the skin and around the abdomen

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed a drug that assaults the blood supply of fat cells and led to weight loss in obese rhesus monkeys.

Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D., co-senior author of the study and professor in MD Anderson's David H. Koch Center for Applied Research for Genitourinary Cancers, along with Wadih Arap, M.D., co-senior author of the study and a professor in the Koch Center, and Kirstin Barnhart, D.V.M., Ph.D., veterinary clinical pathologist at MD Anderson's Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, have created a new weight-loss drug that could potentially reduce accumulated white fat in humans.

Currently, weight-loss drugs work to suppress the appetite or increase metabolism in order to combat obesity, but harmful side effects come with the use of such drugs.

Now, Pasqualini and Arap have designed a new drug called Adipotide, which attacks white adipose tissue. This tissue is an unhealthy kind of fat that accumulates around the abdomen and under the skin. Adipotide contains a homing agent that attaches to a protein on the surface of blood vessels that support the fat. A synthetic peptide then triggers cell death, and with a lack of blood supply, the fat cells are reabsorbed.

The drug was used in mice models and rhesus monkey models. Adipotide was able to decrease abdominal circumference, body mass index (BMI) and body fat.

According to the study, the obese mice lost about 30 percent of their body weight while on Adipotide. The rhesus monkeys in the study, which were "spontaneously" obese due to overeating and a lack of physical activity, had a 27 percent decrease in abdominal fat levels. The drug reduced the weight of rhesus monkeys by 11 percent in just one month.

The rhesus monkeys, in addition to being obese, had other health problems associated with their obesity such as metabolic syndrome. This can lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But those treated with Adipotide used about 50 percent less insulin.

The research team used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to gauge abdominal body fat, which discovered the reduction in abdominal fat levels.

According to the study, monkeys were alert and acted normally during treatment. This showed that the usual side effects of weight-loss drugs, such as loss of appetite and nausea, were not present while using Adipotide. However, Barnhart noted side effects in the kidneys, but the effect was "dose-dependent, predictable and reversible."

In a separate study to test for the drug's effects in non-obese monkeys, lean monkeys did not lose weight, which shows that the drug only acts in obese subjects.

The next step will be a clinical trial for obese prostate cancer patients, where these patients will receive daily injections of Adipotide for 28 days. The team has targeted prostate cancer patients because current treatments can lead to weight gain, and weight gain has caused problems with arthritis. This then leads to less activity, and more weight gain.

"The question is, will their prostate cancer become better if we can reduce their body weight and the associated health risks," said Arap.

This study was published in Science.

Source: Science Daily



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