The Future of Clinical Research for Weight Loss

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Dr. Hanid Audish

Could a drug that’s commonly prescribed for migraines be used to treat obesity?

Dr. Hanid Audish discusses a new study authored by University of Texas Southwestern scientists that believe so.

The research, published this month in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, studied obese mice who were fed a daily dose of medicine from a popular class of migraine drugs called triptans over one month.

The triptan dose resulted in the mice consuming less food and losing weight over the month. Chen Liu, the research’s primary author and an assistant professor of internal medicine and neuroscience, said the triptan showed real potential as a safe treatment plan for weight loss and appetite suppression.

In the study, mice given a daily dose of frovatriptan lost an average of 3.6% of their weight. Those not given the drug gained 5.1% of their body weight.

Triptans primarily treat cluster headaches and acute migraine by targeting the serotonin 1B receptor. A chemical messenger prevalent throughout the body, serotonin is known to play a big role in appetite.

However, researchers have yet to fully understand the multiple serotonin receptors’ role in appetite. The UT Southwestern study is the first to study serotonin 1B in the context of weight loss.

Obesity Epidemic Not Slowing Down in America

The UT Southwestern study was funded in part by the American Health Association and the National Institutes of Health.

Over 41% of adults in the United States are affected by obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The leading cause of weight gain is taking in an excessive number of calories.

.A study published in June in the Journal of Obesity found that the obesity epidemic in the U.S. continues to grow. Throughout the study, more than a third of adults in America gained 10% or more body weight over 10 years, while a fifth gained at least 20% of their body weight.

There are other promising treatment developments, though.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing are beginning to study the protein D3 and its potential to be turned into an appetite suppressant pill without side effects. D3 works by hormone stimulation, making people feel less hungry and fuller.

The developers plan to begin clinical human trials next year.

Dr. Hanid Audish

Weight-loss Drug Earns Approval From FDA

Other drugs to fight obesity have also shown promising results in clinical trials. One is an injectable medication called Wegovy, which recently earned approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Wegovy, developed by Novo Nordisk, is designed for adults who are overweight, obese, or have at least one weight condition, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

The drug is the first targeting chronic weight management to be approved in eight years, according to the FDA. It is used weekly in tandem with an exercise program and a low-calorie diet.

In a 68-week clinical trial, patients taking Wegovy lost an average of nearly 15% of their body weight compared to 2.4% weight loss for those taking a placebo.