Science

Fat-burning drug derived from chili pepper chemical successful in early mouse trials

Fat-burning drug derived from ...
A novel drug that is a slow-release form of capsaicin has anti-obesity effects in early mouse studies
A novel drug that is a slow-release form of capsaicin has anti-obesity effects in early mouse studies
View 1 Image
A novel drug that is a slow-release form of capsaicin has anti-obesity effects in early mouse studies
1/1
A novel drug that is a slow-release form of capsaicin has anti-obesity effects in early mouse studies

An interesting new anti-obesity drug has demonstrated exciting results in early mouse studies. The drug is based on the same compound notable for giving chili peppers their characteristic burn.

The new research from a team at the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy found that capsaicin, the chemical compound responsible for the burning sensation in chili peppers, can activate specific energy-burning receptors in fat cells. TRPV1 receptors, seen in high volumes in fat cells, can trigger those fat cells to burn energy instead of storing it.

But, simply concentrating capsaicin and administering it was not found to be an especially feasible or practical anti-obesity treatment. So the researchers modified the compound and developed a drug called Metabocin. This novel drug allows for a slower, more sustained release of capsaicin into a body, enhancing the bioavailability of the compound and reducing any unwanted side effects or toxicity.

Initial animal studies showed the drug to effectively promote weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity and activate brown fat thermogenesis. The most recent experiments examined the safety profile of the drug over long-term use. After eight months of continuous treatment the mouse models displayed no adverse safety issues and continued to exhibit weight loss.

"It proved safe and was well tolerated by the mice," says BaskaranThyagarajan, lead investigator on the project. "Developing Metabocin as a potent anti-obesity treatment shows promise as part of a robust strategy for helping people struggling with obesity."

But before you rush off to down a bottle of chili sauce, Thyagarajan also notes that these clinically significant effects cannot be achieved by simply eating lots of spicy food.

"Eating chili peppers may be beneficial but it is not possible to get the appropriate dose of capsaicin via chili peppers," explains Thyagarajan. "This is because various chili peppers contain varying amount of capsaicin."

The next stages for the research will explore the drug's safety, and then efficacy, in human trials. The team is currently seeking funds to embark on these clinical trials and is also developing novel capsaicin treatments for more site-specific obesity therapies. One project includes an injectable formulation of capsaicin that can be specifically administered to trigger anti-obesity effects in localized areas.

The new research will be presented at the upcoming Annual Meeting for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

Source: Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior

5 comments
EasyRider
Of course not, they want to sell the drugs and make all kinds of $$$$$ "Eating chili peppers may be beneficial but it is not possible to get the appropriate dose of capsaicin via chili peppers," explains Thyagarajan. "This is because various chili peppers contain varying amount of capsaicin."
c2cam
@EasyRider - I was thinking the same thing.
EZ
Apparently, they've never tried Habanaros.
Jean Lamb
This probably explains why so many people in Thailand are so skinny--the Scoville units run out of digits there.
Maks
In India, especially the southern states, the fact that capsaicin can keep a person lean almost wiry and healthy has been known for ages. A good proof of this is the fact that people in the Southern part (states) of India ( Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc.) are not too fat or maybe even obese like a good number of the people of the Northern part of India. This is simply because in the South we consume black pepper, green pepper and quite few other kinds of pepper. (It is a fact that Bhoot Jholokia or Ghost pepper (1 000 000 SHU )originated in the Assam region of India.It is at least two times hotter than Red Savina Habanero in terms of Scoville heat units (SHU)) Such kinds of pepper with high capsaicin content, then has to be considered a staple of almost every meal in the Southern States. Mr Thyagarajan just stated the obvious in so many words to New Atlas. This is nothing new. The only new thing is perhaps that he gives emphasis here, to the fact that capsaicin has to be ever present in the foods to have any effect on an individual's metabolism.