Research found that the experimental drug blocks an important hunger pathway resulting into significant weight loss in mice, and this could be a promising treatment for obesity.
In attempts to develop drug for suppressing cancer tumor growth, researchers from Northwest A&F University, China developed a new potential anti-obesity treatment that promoted weight loss in mice. According to the research published in the journal PLOS Biology on February 24, 2020, the new oral treatment activates a key hunger-suppression pathway, resulting into the mice consuming significantly low amount of food during the course of a month.
The research was focusing on a drug called Camtothecin which is known to consist a specific DNA repair enzyme and can suppress growth of tumor. The drug consists beneficial effects on a hormone known as growth differentiation factor (GDF 15). This hormone circulates through body in response to various stimuli such as stress. As suppressing the hormone results into obesity, the team searched for drugs that boost the production of this hormone. When searching through a database called Connectivity Mao, the team found that exposure of cells to camptothecis results into elevated expression of GDF15. Following this, the team administered this drug orally in obese mice, which certainly increased GDF15 levels in their blood.
Furthermore, over the course of a month, the mice were found to have reduced food consumption by 12% and their weight reduced by 11%. When the team tested the drug on lean mice, the researchers found there were no effects of this drug and the levels of GDF15 were remained unchanged. The drug camptothecin was investigated as an anti-cancer treatment, however, the trials were stopped due to safety concerns regarding use of this drug in humans. Furthermore, the drug seemed to work through a separate mechanism in tackling obesity, its safety measures are yet to be decides as a promising weight-loss treatment.