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Could Canker Sore Drug Be the Next Weight Loss Miracle Pill?


A drug currently approved to treat mouth ulcers has shown promise in animal studies for being a contender in pharmaceutical weight loss. Amlexanox was found by University of Michigan researchers to produce weight loss in obese mice without any change in diet or exercise habits.

For the study, mice fed a high calorie diet until they became obese were injected with amlexanox. The animals lost weight, despite consuming the same amount of calories. The researchers also noted a loss in overall body fat, a decrease in fatty liver, and a reversal of obesity-induced type 2 diabetes. Once taken off the amlexanox injections, however, the mice experienced weight gain.

Amlexanox may work by changing the action of genes that control metabolism versus working as an appetite suppressant.

"Amlexanox appears to work in mice by inhibiting two genes-IKKE and TBK1-that we think together act as a sort of brake on metabolism," said Dr. Alan Saltiel, the lead researcher at UM. "By releasing the brake, amlexanox seems to free the metabolic system to burn more, and possibly store less, energy."

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"One of the reasons that diets are so ineffective in producing weight loss for some people is that their bodies adjust to the reduced calories by also reducing their metabolism, so that they are 'defending' their body weight," Dr. Saltiel continues.

Clinical trials in humans are intended for later this year. Because the drug is already approved by the FDA for another purpose, if it is effective and safe for weight loss, it could potentially be available for this new indication more quickly than a newly developed drug. Also, the patent for amlexanox has expired, so generics would be available as well.

"It is a tour de force and offers a new and potentially exciting opening for developments of new anti-obesity drugs -- something which is badly needed," says Dr. George Bray, chief of the Division of Clinical Obesity and Metabolism at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.

The findings were published Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine.

University of Michigan News Release