The drug, amlexanox, has been found by researchers at the U-M's Life Sciences Institute to be effective in reducing fat deposits and type 2 diabetes in obese mice. But what possessed the group, headed by LSI director Alan Saltiel, to take another look at a drug normally smeared on canker sores or ingested as a tablet for asthma?
The short answer is that the nation is gripped by an obesity epidemic. And rather than hunt for new compounds that could help--but might not be safe for human use--the U-M team screened already-approved drugs looking for one that did what they wanted: "Amlexanox appears to work in mice by inhibiting two genes ... that we think together act as a sort of brake on metabolism," Saltiel announced in a press release. "By releasing the brake, amlexanox seems to free the metabolic system to burn more, and possibly store less, energy."
One-third of all American adults are considered overweight, and another third clinically obese. Obese people live shorter lives, and the quality of life they do live is plagued with diseases, among them type 2 diabetes, chronic heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But, as any dieter can tell you, it's not easy to shed the extra pounds. Despite attempts to improve nutrition and exercise more, dieters often hit a wall in their weight-loss efforts. That's because when we get less food, our metabolisms slow down to account for the decreased caloric intake. The less food we consume, the fewer calories our bodies will want to burn.