Want to lose weight and get fit? It could soon be as easy as sitting on the couch and stuffing your face with your favorite food.
US pharmacy researchers have developed and tested a new drug that could help humans lose weight simply by convincing the body’s muscles that they are exercising.
The drug — which has the potential to transform the future of fitness — is known as SLU-PP-332, and makes the body act like it is training for a marathon, according to a news release from the University of Florida.
“This compound is basically telling skeletal muscle to make the same changes you see during endurance training,” Thomas Burris, a University of Florida professor who led recent research into the drug, declared.
Burris and teams from Missouri’s Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University published their findings in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics last week after testing the drug on mice.
As part of the trial, obese mice were injected with SLU-PP-332 twice per day over a monthlong period.
After 28 days, they weighed less than rodents who were not given the drug, despite the fact they ate the same amount of food and didn’t exercise any more intensely.
On average, they gained 10 times less fat than untreated mice and lost 12% of their body weight.
SLU-PP-332 targets a group of proteins in the body known as ERRs, which are responsible for activating some of the most important metabolic pathways in tissues, including the heart and the brain.
“They use more energy just living,” Burris declared.
However, the researchers also found that the drug had added effects when combined with exercise.
The study found that SLU-PP-332 allowed normal-weight mice to run for 70% longer and 45% farther than mice who weren’t injected with the drug.
SLU-PP-332 did not generate any severe side effects during the trial on the mice.
The drug will require further testing on animals to assess any possible side effects before it can move to any human trials.
The next step is refining the structure of SLU-PP-332, ideally making it available as a pill instead of an injection.
According to the University of Florida news release, Burris and his team are soon set to research whether the drug can also treat heart failure in mice by strengthening the heart muscle.
He also wants to assess whether muscle mass is properly maintained even as weight is lost, which will be a crucial component of taking the drug to market.
“This may be able to keep people healthier as they age,” Burris declared.