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Monday, August 14th 2006

Obesity Vaccine

A ‘vaccine’ given to rats seems to affect their metabolism.

In the new study, mature male rats immunized with specific types of the active vaccine ate normally yet gained less weight and had less body fat, indicating that the vaccine directly affects the body’s metabolism and energy use. This finding may be especially important to stop what is commonly known as “yo-yo dieting,” the cycle of repeated loss and regain of weight experienced by many dieters. The new vaccine, which is directed against the hormone ghrelin (pronounced “grell-in”), a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate energy balance in the body, has shown the potential, in animal models at least, to put an end to that risky and often futile struggle.

“Through our work in the development of immunopharmacotherapy-based vaccines against drug addiction, we became interested in the problem of obesity,” Janda said. “While there were numerous possible hormones involved in obesity that could be targeted, we decided that ghrelin would be a good starting point to examine such a hypothesis.”

The researchers developed three active vaccines (labeled Ghr1-2-3) to immunize adult male rats. Those animals immunized with Ghr1 or Ghr3 showed greater and more selective plasma-binding capacity for the active form of ghrelin—keeping the hormone in the blood and away from the brain and the central nervous system—as compared to Ghr2 or control models.

During the study, the rats immunized with Ghr1 and Ghr3 ate normally but, once antibody levels increased, accrued less body weight and fat

It is now going into clinical trials.

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