Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor) Feb 6 2020
Eric Prossnitz, Ph.D., and his team hope to help 93 million obese Americans fight their fat.
In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine , they reported that G-1, a cancer-fighting compound they discovered some years ago, reduces fat in obese mice. Although G-1 is currently in phase 1 clinical trials for cancer, Prossnitz and his team are planning preclinical studies to use G-1 to fight fat in obese people.
Obesity affects 40% of adults in the United States, resulting in health conditions that include heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity and its related conditions far outweigh other causes of death. Current drugs for obesity don't effectively reduce it or have undesirable side effects.
Prossnitz and his team have been studying GPER, the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor that G-1 activates, because GPER affects certain breast cancer cells. When breast cancer drugs like tamoxifen and fulvestrant block estrogen receptors in a cell's nucleus, they also activate GPER, which is found in cell membranes.
Prossnitz's previous studies showed that GPER may play a role in resistance to tamoxifen and similar drugs, and that led him to wonder how G-1 affects non-cancerous cells when estrogen is lacking.
Estrogen is considered a female hormone, although men produce it at low levels. Low estrogen in women is a hallmark of menopause, and postmenopausal women also have higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. So to understand whether G-1 might affect metabolism in postmenopausal women, Prossnitz and his team studied mice with low estrogen levels.
In their studies, low-estrogen female mice gained weight rapidly, even on a normal diet, and quickly became obese and diabetic. When the researchers treated these obese female mice with G-1, the mice lost weight and their diabetes went away.
The researchers determined that the weight loss wasn't due to the mice eating less or moving around more; it resulted from what their bodies did with the calories they ate. Instead of storing calories as fat, the mice used them as fuel. Related Stories
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