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New Weight Loss Med Demonstrates Loss Of Body Fat With An Increase In Lean Mass

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Lose fat not muscle with this new weight loss med.

A news release from The Obesity Society reports encouraging news for overweight and obese patients with Type 2 diabetes who are looking for a medication that could very well cure their medical condition without involving a rigorous dieting program.

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Bimagrumab: The Weight Loss Med You Probably Never Heard Of

According to a news release from The Obesity Society, a new study found that treating overweight and obese patients with a drug called “Bimagrumab” resulted in a nearly 21 percent loss in body fat and a gain of 3.6 percent of lean muscle mass in the patients. In comparison, a placebo group in the same study had an increase in total body fat mass of 0.5% with a lean muscle mass reduction of 0.8%.

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"These exciting results suggest that there may be a novel mechanism for achieving weight loss with a profound loss of body fat and an increase in lean mass, along with other metabolic benefits," said Steve Heymsfield, MD, FTOS, past president of The Obesity Society and corresponding author of the study. Heymsfield is professor and director of the Metabolism and Body Composition Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

What Is Bimagrumab?

The study describes bimagrumab (BYM338; Novartis) as a human monoclonal antibody that binds to activin Type II receptors (ActRII) and in turn prevents specific molecular components from inhibiting skeletal muscle growth. Earlier studies involving skeletal muscle in mice, found that bimagrumab treatment had an effect on brown adipose tissue (BAT) differentiation and activity.

Brown adipose tissue is one of the two major types of adipocytes found in children and adults. While the majority of fat tissue is white adipose tissue (WAT) involved in energy storage (and thus obesity), brown adipose tissue (BAT) is much less prevalent and responsible for thermogenesis and energy expenditure. Hence, there is a lot of interest toward finding ways to increase the BAT content in the human body—in particular, by converting WAT to BAT.

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How Does Bimagrumab Work?

The authors of the study report that the exact mechanisms linking Bimagrumab-induced inhibition of specific molecular components from preventing skeletal muscle growth and resulting in marked reductions in fat mass are largely unknown. However, what is known is that the receptors the Bimagrumab monoclonal antibodies bind to are found not just on muscle cells, but fat cells as well. The authors state that further studies are needed to elucidate potential mechanisms that can account for the reduction in fat mass during ActRII blocking by the Bimagrumab monoclonal antibodies.

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Why Is This Weight Loss Drug So Important?

The significance of the findings of the study is not just a matter of a novel potential way to lose weight easily, but that it also addresses another problem with dieting—loss of lean muscle mass. It turns out that loss of lean muscle mass is typically observed with low calorie dieting, which is only partially offset when the weight loss program includes a regimen of moderate or high intensity exercise.

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Therefore, an easily provided weight loss med that not only reduces fat mass—but increases muscle mass as well—provides an ideal weight loss solution for overweight or obese patients who may have physical or other limitations regarding exercising enough to offset diet-induced muscle loss.

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Study Conclusions

The authors report that:

“…this study confirms that inhibition of this receptor in human participants leads to not only increases in lean mass but profound decreases in body fat, along with improvements in glycemic control. Inhibition of ActRII may provide a novel pathway for the pharmacologic management of excess adiposity and accompanying metabolic disturbances.”

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Rafif Al Hashmi from Pixabay

References:

Medication shows promise for weight loss in patients with obesity, diabetesThe Obesity Society News Release 13 Jan. 2021.

Effect of Bimagrumab vs Placebo on Body Fat Mass Among Adults With Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity A Phase 2 Randomized Clinical Trial” Steven B. Heymsfield, MD; Laura A. Coleman, PhD, RD; Ram Miller, MD; et al; JAMA Network Open 2021; 4(1): e2033457.

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