Experimental vaccine knocks the weight off flabby mice

The quest to find a safe, effective obesity treatment that could be used by the flabby masses led one team of investigators to try out a new vaccine approach that proved promising in a preclinical mouse study. The scientists created two versions of modified somatostatin, a peptide hormone, and found that the vaccines knocked an average of 10% of the fat off the rodents in four days. And they say the same approach is worth trying out in humans.

The team at Braasch Biotech--which has been collaborating with investigators at the Jackson Laboratory--was working with the knowledge that somatostatin puts a brake on the action of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which are known to rev up metabolism and spur weight loss. The vaccines generated antibodies to somatostatin, which eased the brake on those two targets and helped lead to the weight loss. The jabs were administered at the start of the study and at day 22.

According to the investigators, the vaccines maintained the 10% weight loss among the mice, which had been fed a high fat diet ahead of the study. And they kept the weight off without any unhealthy fluctuation in IGF-1 and insulin. Of course, any animal study is at best a prelude to years in the clinic with human subjects. And regulators would expect anyone tinkering with metabolism with new vaccines to clear a very high safety bar.

Braasch is also working on an obesity vaccine for pets, which often share their owner's propensity for added pounds.

"This study demonstrates the possibility of treating obesity with vaccination," Keith Haffer from Braasch Biotech noted. "Although further studies are necessary to discover the long term implications of these vaccines, treatment of human obesity with vaccination would provide physicians with a drug- and surgical- free option against the weight epidemic."  

- here's the press release