ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: July 29, 2015

Toward a safe antiobesity drug that could block fat absorption

"pH-Responsive Micelle Sequestrant Polymers Inhibit Fat Absorption"

To help address the global obesity epidemic, scientists are developing a new class of compounds called “micelle sequestrant polymers,” or MSPs, that could prevent fat particles from getting absorbed in the body and thus potentially reduce weight gain. They report on their novel agents, which they tested on mice, in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules.

Research has shown that worldwide, obesity rates have been climbing for years. Treatments for overweight and obesity include diet and exercise, surgery and prescription medications. But currently available drugs can have serious side effects, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease and depression. So Cory Berkland and colleagues set out to find new kinds of pharmaceuticals to fight weight gain.

Targeting the body’s process of absorbing fat, the researchers designed a class of polymers that capture fat particles called micelles in the intestines so they can’t be digested. Instead, they pass through the gut and are excreted. In tests, mice who took these MSPs had nine to 10 times the amount of triglycerides — the main dietary fat — in their feces than the control animals. Additionally, because the MSPs pass through the body unabsorbed, the researchers say they could provide a safe approach for long-term treatment.

The authors acknowledge funding from the University of Kansas Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation and the American Heart Association.

To help fight obesity, scientists are working on drugs that could trap ingested fat before the body absorbs it.
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