A new molecule synthesized by researchers from Britain’s University of Southampton may eliminate the need for diet and exercise in the near future. Named ‘compound 14’, the particle has been found to essentially ‘trick’ cells into thinking they have undergone large amounts of exercise.
The molecule works by triggering a chain reaction of events in the cells of the body. It suppresses the function of ATIC, a cellular enzyme relating to metabolism, which causes an increase in the production of a molecule called ZMP in the cells. This makes the cells think they are running out of energy, leading to the activation of their central energy sensor known as AMPK which attempts to compensate by raising their energy levels through an increase of glucose uptake and metabolism, a process which typically occurs when the body exercises.
Ali Tavassoli, Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Southampton, said that the molecule’s ability to mimic the exercise-related process of glucose and oxygen usage within our cells hold the possibility for treating several diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity.
“Our molecule, which activates AMPK by altering cellular metabolism, therefore holds much promise as a potential therapeutic agent.” says the professor.
The compound is still very far away from being used for human consumption, however a clinical trial found that it was effective when given to mice. Researches gave a single dose of the compound to a group of obese mice and a group of mice at a healthy weight during an experiment, resulting in the healthy mice showing no changes while the overweight mice had their blood glucose lowered to near-normal levels. Furthermore, the obese mice lost five percent of their body weight after being administered a daily dose for a full week.
“This new molecule seems to reduce glucose levels and at the same time decrease body weight, but only if the subject is obese.” concluded Dr Felino Cagampang, Associate Professor in Integrative Physiology at the University of Southampton and the study’s co-author.
Researchers are continuing to examine the effects of the molecule on lowering body fat in humans with long term treatment. With the compound already showing promise, a weight loss pill that actually works could very well be seen on pharmaceutical shelves in the a few years – maybe even less.