Vaccine targets obesity - - Columbia, South Carolina

Vaccine targets obesity

(National-NBC) August 11, 2006 - Researchers are testing a new anti-obesity vaccine. They say the drug has worked for animals and could eventually be used for humans.

Dr. Kim Janda of Scripps Research Institute says, "What we've done is taken a molecule known as ghrelin, which is known to be involved in hunger and also fat metabolism, and we've made a  vaccine against this molecule known as ghrelin."

Ghrelin makes you hungry, slows your metabolism and tells your body to store fat. And that's not all, according to Dr. Janda, "It's also involved in fat storage, so basically when it's high your  metabolism slows down."

Unlike other weight loss drugs or appetite suppressants, the vaccine  doesn't work by speeding up your metabolism. Instead, it's said to simply  block the effects of ghrelin.

Janda explains how it works, "What we've done is created antibodies that will bind to ghrelin, that stops ghrelin from reaching its target in the brain."

Missing its target in the brain means your own immune system could fight off fat like it would an infection. Dr. Janda says the idea is "to basically recognize ghrelin as a foreign material, and to remove it."

No diet or change in eating habits would be required. Janda says, "What we've been able to show is that animals will eat the same as ones  that aren't vaccinated, but they will not put weight on."  

It wouldn't be a one-time shot, according to Dr. Janda, "The way the vaccine works right now, you'd need several shots and it would last for several months and then you'd get a booster and it would last for another few months."

Scientists say they want to do more pre-clinical trials before they testing the vaccine on people.

Also in the works are immune vaccines for nicotine and cocaine addictions.

Posted 7:03pm by Chantelle Janelle

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