A New Weight Loss Quick Fix?

A combination of two drugs shows real promise -- at least in mice.

ByABC News via GMA logo
July 14, 2009, 5:01 PM

July 14, 2009 — -- Millions of Americans want to lose weight. On their treadmills and over their salads they dream of a quick fix that doesn't require excessive dieting and exercise.

And the hope that those dreams could become reality got a boost Monday when a team of researchers at Indiana University released a study in the online journal Nature Chemical Biology that showed that two natural hormones combined into a single drug suppressed appetite and increased metabolism -- in rodents, anyway.

"There's a global epidemic of obesity," said Richard DiMarchi, chairman of the chemistry department at Indiana University in Bloomington and the study's lead researcher. "Our focus is finding therapies to lower body weight and treat diabetes."

A single injection of the drug decreased the rodents' body weight by 25 percent -- and fat mass by 42 percent -- after one week.

"I'm excited. It is rodent work that's representative of human obesity," said DiMarchi. "What we're doing is using the proven ability of two hormones to stop appetite and use more calories."

The drug, which researchers say might one day be taken as a weekly injection, happens to be the active ingredients in two medications already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Obesity specialists not affiliated with the study expressed enthusiasm over the findings.

"This has potential," said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y. "It's long been known that combination therapies can work well -- that is, multiple drugs at the same time to treat chronic illness, viruses, et cetera.

"With this paper, we see that a single drug is developed that acts in two different ways, which is a little different. It's like getting one drug to work in two distinct ways."

Likewise, Dr. Lou Aronne, weight-loss author and obesity expert, said that the new research "emphasizes that many approaches will probably be effective.

"Remember, even though these are mice, the treatment is affecting two receptor systems that exist in humans," he said.