Scientists develop ‘exercise pill’ to fight fat

Obese woman in long black dress and hat
According to the authors of the article, published in the journal Nature, the discovery helps to better understand the physiological mechanisms involved in the binomial physical activity and hunger. (photo: Pxhere/Disclosure)

Any person, when dieting to lose weight, suffers a “sabotage” of the body: he starts to spend less energy and, when exercising, has limited movements. This is a defense strategy: with less caloric intake and more mobility, the body imagines that it is starving and tries to store fat. In the future, a drug could reverse the mechanism, ensuring that, in addition to less desire to eat, the individual burns adipose tissue when doing physical activity.

In a pre-clinical study, carried out with mice, researchers from the Stanford School of Medicine and the Bayler College of Medicine, in the United States, identified a molecule in the bloodstream, produced during physical exercise, that was able to reduce the intake of food and obesity in animals. According to the authors of the article, published in the journal Nature, the discovery helps to better understand the physiological mechanisms involved in the binomial physical activity and hunger.

“Regular exercise has been proven to help with weight loss, regulate appetite and improve the metabolic profile, especially for overweight and obese people,” said Yong Xu, co-author of the study and professor of nutrition and molecular biology and Baylor cell. “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise triggers these benefits, we will be closer to helping many people improve their health.” In an increasingly heavy world, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, in three years’ time, 2.3 billion adults will be overweight, with 700 million of them being morbidly obese.

Metabolism

In the research, the scientists analyzed compounds in the blood of mice after the animals had run on a treadmill. In the samples, one molecule stood out: Lac-Phe, an amino acid synthesized from lactate, that compound that gives the muscle a burning sensation during physical activity, and from phenylalanine, one of the building blocks of proteins.

The animals were divided into groups, part of which was fed a high-fat diet to induce obesity. They also received a high dose of Lac-Phe. The result is that, compared to control mice, the molecule suppressed food intake for 12 hours by 50%. “The interesting thing is that the administration of the product reduced adiposity without affecting metabolism”, evaluated Joo Lindolfo Borges, member of the Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabology (Sbem) and president of the DF section of the institution, referring to “sabotage” of the organism when try to lose weight with physical activities.

According to the researchers, Lac-Phe was also detected by the team at high levels in the blood of humans and racehorses, after physical activity. In the case of the former, resistance exercises were the ones that most induced the elevation of the enzyme. “Our next steps include finding more details on how Lac-Phe mediates its effects on the body, including the brain, for therapeutic interventions,” Xu said.

Endocrinologist Joo Lindolfo Borges recalls, however, that the road to get there will be long. “It’s a very promising study, but it’s done in animals. It’s not known whether the results will be extrapolated to humans,” he said. “But, considering that it goes through the research phases, it will take eight to 10 years to reach the shelves of pharmacies”, he estimated. According to the doctor, it is necessary to invest in more research that results in new drugs to treat an illness that, according to the WHO, can be considered a pandemic.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

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