'Flab jab' could let you stay slim on a junk food diet by using immune system to fight weight gain
06:50 GMT, 9 July 2012
The 'flab jab' could allow people to continue eating fatty foods but lose weight at the same time
A ‘flab jab’ that allows people to gorge on junk food yet keep trim could be on the horizon.
Scientists have invented an obesity vaccine that uses the immune system to fight weight gain. In tests, mice given a single injection lost 10 per cent of body weight after four days.
What is more, the animals were being fed on high-fat food – suggesting the ‘flab jab’ might allow people to eat badly yet stay slim.
But don’t abandon your diet yet. Leaving aside the other damaging effects on health of eating too much high-fat food, the research is still at a very early stage and the drug is around seven to ten years from the market.
The vaccine works by fooling the body’s immune system into making antibodies against a hormone called somatostatin.
Somatostatin, which is made by the brain and the digestive system, interferes with other hormones, leading to the metabolism slowing down and weight being put on.
The antibodies stop it from working, the metabolism speeds up and the pounds fall off.
The mice that shed 10 per cent of their weight after one injection were given a booster jab three weeks after the first which helped to keep their weight in check, the Journal Of Animal Science and Biotechnology reported.
Importantly, levels of other vital hormones were not affected.
Lead researcher Dr Keith Haffer, of US firm Braasch Biotech, said: ‘This study demonstrates the possibility of treating obesity with vaccination.
The study addresses the possibility of treating obese people with an injection
Although further studies are necessary to discover the long-term implications of these vaccines, treatment of human obesity with vaccination could provide physicians with a drug and surgical-free option against the weight epidemic.’
The difficulty in formulating a safe diet drug means that just one prescription-strength diet pill, Xenical, is on sale in the UK.
It prevents the absorption of fats in the body but comes with unpleasant side-effects such as an upset stomach.