Fulfilling your new year’s resolution just got easier. Losing weight is usually number 1 on the list of resolutions. Scientists have made a diet pill which tricks your body into thinking you just ate.
Ronald Evans makes the startling claim that a certain drug can help the fight against obesity. The drug is known as fexaramine and helps suppress weight gain and boost the metabolism of mice. The pill works allegedly making you feel like you have just eaten a meal, hence the name ‘imaginary meal pill.’ Evans is the senior author of the paper and director of the gene expression laboratory at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. He states that the pill works as if you had just eaten food and induces bile acids needed for digestion. “This pill is like an imaginary meal. It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food.”
Fexaramine activates a protein called the farensoid X receptor (FXR) that plays a role in how the body releases bile acids from the liver, digests food and stores fats and sugars. An important feature of fexaramine is that it only functions in the gut and does not dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine based diet drugs. Since it does not reach the bloodstream, it is likely to be safer than other drugs and should decrease side effects drastically. So far the researchers have only tried out their method on mice. Clinical trials are being set up that will test fexaramine’s effectiveness in human patients. The pill could be ready for human testing in two to three years. Evans worries that the weight will come back once a patient stops take the pills.
“The body’s response to a meal is like a relay race, and if you tell all the runners to go at the same time, you’ll never pass the baton,” says Evans. “We’ve learned how to trigger the first runner so that the rest of the events happen in a natural order.” Scientists predict that the drug fexaramine could be used to treat not only obesity, but also diseases like diabetes, even though patients would still be advised to make diet and lifestyle changes.