Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Drug to Replace Weight Loss Surgery

While speaking in the UK at the British Association Festival of Science, Dr Carol Le Roux, of Imperial College London, indicated that researchers are trying to determine how weight loss surgery changes the balance of hormones in the body that play a role in weight loss. This is an important quest since weight loss surgery is the most successful weight loss treatment.

Weight loss surgery can allow a person to lose twenty to twenty five percent of his or her weight over a period of time. And after the surgery, many persons are able to maintain significant, long-term weight loss. However, some of the effects of weight loss surgery are not completely understood.

The hormones, PYY and GLP-1, that make you feel full have a greater effect after weight loss surgery, and the hormone, ghrelin, that makes you feel hungry has a lesser effect after the surgery. If researchers can make headway in determining how weight loss surgery causes a re-balance of these hormones, the results could lead to drugs that replace weight loss surgery.

Dr. Le Roux indicated that she hopes that in five to ten years, a drug to mimic weight loss surgery can be developed. This would be viewed as a significant achievement for the weight loss industry. And although the drug could negatively impact those providers performing weight loss surgery, if a weight loss drug could be found that produces minimum side effects, the drug would be a significant option for persons seeking weight loss.

Minimizing side effects would have to be an important feature of the drug. There are, and have been, obesity drugs on the market, but they usually produce unhealthy or annoying side effects, including thoughts of suicide and gas.

We’ve seen estimates that show that more than 300 million people in the world are obese, including more than 70 million in the United States. And we’ve seen estimates of the market for obesity drugs and bariatric surgical devices to be more than $350 million. Therefore, there is great demand and a large market for new therapies that can combat obesity. A drug to mimic weight loss surgery would be welcomed.

Those of us interested in the weight loss or bariatric industry should maintain awareness of this drug research and other research directed at weight loss treatments. The weight loss center that makes the best use of weight loss research results will gain a competitive advantage.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Brain Chemical May Lead to Weight Loss Drugs

A National Institute of Health Study (NIH) has found that a chemical produced in the brain may affect appetite and obesity. The chemical, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), was uncovered during a study of rare genetic disorders. It appears that people who lack this chemical have very large appetites and are prone to obesity. This research finding could lead to useful obesity drugs.

Along with diet, exercise, and weight loss surgery, weight loss drugs are another important sector of the bariatric or weight loss industry. However, these drugs have been found to cause side effects -- both physical and psychological. The side effects include heart problems, depression and thoughts of suicide.

Despite evidence that weight loss drugs cause side effects, the urgent need or great desire to lose weight compels some persons to use weight loss drugs. Because of this, efforts are ongoing to find an effective weight loss drug that causes a minimum amount of side effects.

More study needs to be done to understand the full effect of the BDNF in the human body. And we hope that studies like the NIH study will lead to better weight loss drugs. Some people cannot lose weight using lifestyle modification. And bariatric surgery is not appropriate for many people.

Therefore, users of weight loss drugs are an important segment of those persons wanting to lose weight. And this segment represents an important market sector for weight loss and bariatric centers who use weight loss drugs as an element in their weight loss treatments.
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