As the U.S. obesity rate has galloped toward 40 percent, doctors, drug designers and dispirited dieters have all wondered the same thing: What if a pill could deliver the benefits of weight-loss surgery, but without the knife?
New research brings that hope a notch closer.
Scientists from the biotechnology company Amgen Inc. report they have identified and improved upon a naturally occurring protein that brought about significant changes in obese mice and monkeys, including weight loss and rapid improvements on measures of metabolic and heart health.
The results, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, approximate some of the mysteriously powerful effects of bariatric surgery, in which a surgeon reshapes the stomach and intestinal tract to reduce their capacity.
Even before surgery patients lose a lot of weight, most see marked improvements in obesity-related conditions like insulin resistance, high circulating blood sugar and worrisome cholesterol levels.