Newly developed antibodies counter diabetes and obesity
Successful treatment of diabetes and obesity possible with an antibody developed in the laboratory? Canadian and US researchers have published a study in the scientific journal "Science Translational Medicine", in which they tested the use of a new antibody in monkeys. The result was convincing: the overweight animals lost significant body weight, their blood lipid levels decreased, their blood sugar level and insulin levels improved. There is hope for a new therapeutic approach against obesity and diabetes in humans, write the researchers led by Ian Foltz, Sylvia Hu and Chadwick King from the genetic engineering company Amgen in British Columbia. They were supported in their research by scientists from Texas A&M University in Houston.
It has long been known that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) has a far-reaching effect on the regulation of blood sugar and blood lipid levels. For example, previous studies have shown that genetically manipulated mice, which increasingly produced FGF21, showed no increased body fat or signs of diabetes even with particularly high-fat food. The FGF21 binds to certain docking sites in the cell walls of the pancreas, adipose tissue and the liver and thus unfolds its regulatory effect, write Foltz and colleagues. However, it was not possible to use FGF21 directly as a medication because the hormone in the blood decays too quickly. Therefore, the researchers in the laboratory developed the antibody mimAb1, which occupies the exact same docking site as FGF21. In experiments with great macaques (subspecies of macaques), the researchers then tested whether mimAb1 also had the same effect as FGF21 in relation to the animal's body weights, blood fat, insulin and blood sugar levels.
Improvement in blood values and reduction in body weight All monkeys were overweight before the start of the study, but otherwise healthy, the researchers write. The scientists injected twice a solution of the mimAb1 antibody intravenously into half of the 20 test animals, the other animals served as a control group and received only a saline solution. The researchers then checked weekly body weight, blood fat, blood sugar and insulin levels. "In obese Java monkeys, the injection of mimAb1 led to an FGF21-like metabolic effect, including a reduction in body weight, insulin, triglycerides and glucose in the blood plasma," wrote Foltz and colleagues. Five to six weeks after the administration of mimAb1, according to the researchers, the body weight of the monkeys had “dropped by around ten percent.” During this time, the animals also showed a significant reduction in the abdominal circumference. The effects lasted up to nine weeks after the injection. The improvement in blood lipid values also observed decreased after about seven weeks.
New treatment approach for diabetes and obesity The monkeys showed a reduction in body weight and an improvement in blood values, although they did not eat much less than usual, which suggests that the antibody increases energy consumption and thus promotes fat burning, the scientists report. Side effects were hardly to be observed in the animals in the course of the experiments, since mimAb1 with its molecular structure only docks to the FGF21 receptors, Foltz and colleagues continue. The newly developed antibody shows comparable positive effects on metabolism as FGF21, but its structure is stable, which makes it possible to use it as a drug, the scientists write. Now the new "innovative therapeutic approach against diabetes and obesity" needs to be examined in further studies. (fp)
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