Researchers are developing an obesity vaccine that increases metabolism to slim down the patient.
Don’t get excited yet, my mouse potato comrades. This is still in the animal trial stage.
How does it work?
The obesity vaccine uses a modified form of somatostatin, a kind of peptide protein molecule. Somatostatin suppresses growth hormones that speed up the body’s metabolism and reduce weight. The vaccine causes the immune system to treat somatostatin as a potential threat and generate antibodies to neutralize the peptide.
Led by Dr Keith Haffer from the company Braasch Biotech in South Dakota, USA, the scientists believe the revolutionary technique will enable doctors to one day treat obesity without the use of surgery or drugs that can cause side effects.
Further safety trials are needed but the “flab jab” has shown promising results in mouse studies. In the experiments, obese mice that were fed a high-fat diet lost 10% of their body weight four days after receiving the vaccine. The scientists produced two versions of the vaccine and both resulted in a sustained 10% drop in body weight after booster shots were given three weeks after. A group of untreated mice did not experience such weight loss.
The treated mice lost weight but the normal levels of growth hormones were not affected and there was no significant reduction in cumulative food intake. The mice were injected with large doses of the vaccine but a similar study in pigs (still unpublished) suggested the vaccine was still effective at much lower doses.
Further trials will study the vaccine’s effects in obese pigs and dogs. Once deemed safe, the vaccine will be tested on humans.