The U-M study, published in the journal Nature Medicine in February, suggests that amlexanox may offer a way around that problem. The researchers discovered that two separate populations of obese mice lost weight after being injected with the drug. The mice also had improved glucose tolerance (a sign of decreased diabetes) and produced less fatty tissue in their livers.
Most significantly, the drug didn't reduce the animals' food intake. Though the obese mice continued to gorge themselves on food, they still lost a considerable amount of weight.
Though the amlexanox-injected mice didn't stop overeating, they were much more active than those who didn't have exposure to the drug. Normally, the fatter you are, the less you move. But as the U-M team hoped, the amlexanox mice had metabolisms comparable to mice with a much lower weight, dissipating the extra energy in their fat cells as heat.
So far, the experiments have been performed only on laboratory mice, so the researchers have been hesitant to draw any conclusions about the drug's effectiveness on obese human patients. But since amlexanox has been safely used in Japan for the past twenty-five years and its patent has expired, clinical trials can begin immediately, without the high cost and delay involved in licensing an existing drug or winning approval for a new one.