Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two Drugs Plus Leptin as a Weight Loss Tool

Leptin is a natural hormone that suppresses appetite. However, leptin loses its effectiveness in obese persons. But there are two drugs that the FDA has already approved for non-weight-loss purposes that may improve leptin’s effectiveness in obese persons. The two drugs are 4 phenyl butyric acid or PBA, "which treats cystic fibrosis, and tauroursodeoxycholic acid or TUDCA, which treats a liver disease."

In a study done by researchers from Christian's hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, mice were fed leptin, PBA, and TUDCA. And significant weight loss resulted. Although there was significant weight loss, we must remember that combining two drugs for weight loss has been done before with dire results.

You might recall the weight loss drug fen-phen, a combination of fenfluramine and phentermine. Both of these drugs were approved by the FDA as short term appetite suppressants. But they were never approved as a combination drug. And using the drug combination can cause harmful side effects, as indicated by the FDA. In fact in 1997, the FDA asked that fenfluramine be taken off the market. So, combining two drugs for weight loss, or for any purpose, should be studied with care, even if the individual drugs are FDA approved.

Perhaps the PBA-TUDCA combination will be different. But, again, it is important to be leery of any medication created by combining two drugs. Also, it is important to be leery of drugs approved for one purpose and used for another.

However, as we've said before in this blog, a successful obesity drug could fill the gap between lifestyle modification and weight loss surgery. Filling this gap with a safe and effective drug is most important to many of those interested in weight loss. And if the PBA-TUDCA combination drug pans out, the drug will be especially important to the weight loss industry.


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