A new drug which appears to cut fat consumption could be the latest potential treatment for obesity, if trials in rats are found to be as effective in humans.
Obesity is a serious health problem in many developed countries, as it puts patients at a far higher risk of other problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
New research carried out by pharmaceutical group Merck showed that the drug could reduce fat intake in rats by 20% when given to rats on a high fat diet.
Writing in the journal Nature, the company's researchers said that the drug worked by acting on receptors in the brain which are normally sensitive to the hormone insulin as part of the mechanism which controls appetite.
Insulin cannot be given as a drug to trigger this mechanism because, if injected into the bloodstream, or taken in pill form, very little if any of the hormone ever reaches the brain.
Merck's scientists have developed a protein which has a similar effect on the receptors as insulin, but which is not broken down in the gut and is therefore able to reach the brain.
If the compound is found to work on adults as well, it is likely to be much more effective than current appetite-suppressing drugs at combating the growing problem of obesity, the researchers say. BBC