An experimental drug called NN2211 has been shown to suppress appetite and promote weight loss in monkeys, findings which are being hailed as a significant step forward in the ongoing search for an anti-fat pill.
The drug has also been shown to have similar effects on pigs and rodents, and study author Barbara Hansen, director of the Obesity and Diabetes Research Center at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, said that the latest findings were encouraging.NN2211 mimics the action of a naturally occurring hormone in the body called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) which is released in the gastrointestinal tract when food is consumed, according to Hansen.
GLP-1 can play a role in digestion by slowing stomach-emptying, and because NN2211 acts in the same way, it may suppress appetite by further slowing stomach-emptying, resulting in a sensation of fullness.
Hansen stressed that the research was still extremely theoretical and that it was still unclear exactly how the drug works.
In the study of five overweight rhesus monkeys given twice-daily injections of the drug for two weeks, average weight loss was nearly a pound.
The monkeys were allowed to eat as much as they wanted for eight hours a day, but their caloric intake nonetheless fell from 722 calories a day at the beginning of the study to 457 calories at the end, according to Hansen, who presented the results of her research at the nutrition conference organised by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and other medical groups earlier this week.
No side effects were observed and the monkeys gained the weight back when they were no longer given the drug.
Novo Nordisk, the company that is developing the drug, funded the study.