Experimental obesity drug has big impact on diabetes

An international team of scientists that paired researchers in Texas and Japan has identified a small molecule therapy which tinkers with the genetic machinery involved in the way the body turns food into fat. And they say that the new drug has proven effective in animal studies in dramatically reducing weight and cholesterol levels, which could also make it an efficient weapon in the fight against diabetes.

"Fatostatin blocked increases in body weight, blood glucose, and hepatic (liver) fat accumulation in (genetically) obese mice, even under uncontrolled food intake," the researchers wrote in the journal Chemistry and Biology. The drug interferes with sterol regulatory element binding proteins, which influence a group of genes that are triggered during overeating. Essentially, it turns off the body's genetic switch for turning food into fat.

"It goes to the origin of [fat synthesis]--all the way back to gene expression," says Salih Wakil of Baylor College of Medicine.

After four weeks of treatment, the mice in the study dropped an average of 12 percent of their body weight and experienced a 70 percent drop in their blood sugar levels. Wakil says he's very optimistic that the same approach can work in humans, despite other cases where dramatic results in animal models for obesity have fallen flat in humans. And because the drug is a small molecule, researchers can work on an oral formulation.

- here's the release
- check out the Reuters report