Twelve and a half million Australian adults – roughly two thirds of the adult population – are overweight or obese and experts claim diet and exercise alone can’t cure them.
Researchers are now working on a weight loss drug and believe they’ve found a promising new target that essentially burns “stored” fat.
Over the years there have been promising new drugs to fight the bulge, but side-effects have led to many being withdrawn from the market.
“About 80 per cent of obesity medications that have reached the market have been withdrawn from the market because of the severe side-effect,” Dr Yan-Chuan Shi from the Gavran Institute of Medical Research told 9News.
That’s because many of them have targeted the brain to reduce appetite.
Garvan researchers are investigating a potentially safer therapy which targets the Y1 molecule found on the surface of fat cells and helps to store energy.
Instead of targeting the brain to suppress appetite researchers are blocking the Y1 receptor to help burn fat instead of storing it.
“We can actually increase the heat production, increase energy expenditure which significantly reduced weight gain,” Dr Shi said.
When they trialled this on obese mice weight gain was slashed by 40 percent – compared to untreated mice- who were also fed a high-fat diet.
Despite the positive progress, pilot human trials are one to three years away.