Pharmaceutical International News - July 2012
'Flab Jab' to Undergo Human Trials
Posted by Ben Morgan - Pharamaceutical International Reporter on 09/07/2012 - 06:00:00
Scientists have developed a new vaccine that triggers the immune system to combat obesity. The vaccine has produced hopeful preliminary results in mouse trials, where in just 4 days it produced a ten percent reduction in body weight in obese mice eating a high fat diet.
'Flab Jab' Vaccine Trials
It is hoped that if the 'flab jab' is successful in safety trials, then the vaccine could prove an effective treatment for obesity. At present, only powerful drugs are available, which may have severe side effects. The only other options are dieting and surgery. The 'flab jab' triggers the immune system to target a hormone for weight gain and slow metabolism.
Two variants of the obesity vaccine have been trialled, both of which caused a continued ten percent decrease in body weight following booster jabs, 3 weeks after the initial dose. Dr Keith Haffer, head researcher for South Dakota's Braasch Biotech, confirmed: "Although further studies are necessary to discover the long term implications of these vaccines, treatment of human obesity with vaccination could provide physicians with a drug and surgical-free option against the weight epidemic."
The 'flab jab' incorporates an altered version of the peptide protein, stomatostatin. The protein mimics growth hormones, which speed up the metabolism causing a reduction in body weight. The 'flab jab' works by mimicking somatostatin and identifies the protein as an immune threat, resulting in antibodies being created to attack stomatostatin and combat the threat.
Obesity in the UK
A person is defined as being obese when their body mass index (calculated from weight and height) exceeds 30 kg/m2. A recent study appearing in The Lancet in 2011 claimed that nearly 50% of men in the UK could become obese in the next twenty years. The study predicted that the percentage of men who are clinically obese would increase from about twenty percent to a figure between 41 to 48 percent. Similarly, obesity is rising in women and it is predicted that 4 out of 10 British women could be obese by 2030.
As many as 30,000 British citizens die early each year due to obesity and associated disorders. Obesity in the UK is believed to cost Britain's economy over £2 billion (including £500 million or more for the NHS).
In a report for the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, the researchers advised: "The vaccination effects did not significantly reduce cumulative food consumption and was confirmed by residual anti-somatostatin antibodies in mouse plasma at the study's end."
The mouse study involved large vaccine doses, but unpublished pig-based research indicated that lower disease could also be effective. Additional trials are planned to test the vaccine in dogs and pigs, followed by human clinical trials.
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