Home Health New Drug May Help Lose Weight, Reduce Fat By Mimicking Exercise

New Drug May Help Lose Weight, Reduce Fat By Mimicking Exercise


By Paul Ian Cross, PhD — Fact checked by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D.

Engaging in exercise makes our bodies healthier and helps lower the risk of dying early from any causes.

Scientists have been studying medicines that can mimic the effects of exercise and might help treat various illnesses, including obesity and a group of conditions called metabolic syndrome.

In new research, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers demonstrated how a substance called SLU-PP-332 acts like a switch that turns on certain beneficial processes in the body, much like what happens when we exercise.

SLU-PP-332 is an estrogen receptor-related (ERR) agonist.

An ERR is a type of receptor that closely resembles receptors that bind estrogen, but has no known ligand (binding partner) in the body. Think of it as a special kind of lock.

An agonist is something that activates or turns on a receptor when it binds to it. So, an agonist is like a key that fits into a lock and turns it on.

The researchers decided to test this substance on mice that were either obese due to their diet or had a genetic condition called ob/ob, which makes them very overweight.

The scientists gave SLU-PP-332 to these mice and studied its effects on their metabolism, which is how the body uses food for energy and other processes.

The mice had higher energy levels, burned more fat, and didn’t accumulate as much fat in their bodies after using SLU-PP-332.

The substance also helped reduce the mice’s obesity and made them more sensitive to insulin, a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels.

This is especially important for people with metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and associated conditions such as stroke and type 2 diabetes.

In summary, activating certain processes in the body with medication, like the way SLU-PP-332 does, might be a promising way to treat obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Senior author Thomas P. Burris, Ph.D., from the University of Florida Genetics Institute, Department of Pharmacodynamics College of Pharmacy, explained the key findings to Medical News Today:

“ERR agonists represent a potential new class of drugs that could be used to treat metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, as well as muscle weakness in the elderly.”

“We have also observed that these drugs are effective in treating heart failure in mouse models,” Dr. Burris continued.

“ERRs are similar to estrogen receptors in structure, but they are not estrogen receptors and have a very different function in that they regulate cellular energetics in tissues with high requirements for energy production (skeletal muscle, heart, brain),” he explained.

“ERRs are naturally involved in exercise and heart function, and this new class of drugs enhances the natural pathways that are stimulated during exercise (or normal heart function). The major finding was the identification of such compounds that can activate these ERRs since they are always ‘on,’ and it wasn’t clear if we could design a drug that would activate them further than their natural ‘on’ position that could lead to therapeutic benefit.” — Dr. Thomas P. Burris

Dr. Cameron Heinz, an attendant care provider, who was not involved in this study, noted that “the research exploring the use of a synthetic ERR agonist to alleviate metabolic syndrome is highly promising.”

“Metabolic syndrome is a complex condition associated with multiple risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues. If this synthetic agonist proves effective in alleviating metabolic syndrome, it could offer a new avenue for treating this widespread health problem,” Dr. Heinz explained.

Dr. Heinz pointed out that “if this research progresses to clinical trials and eventually leads to the development of a pharmaceutical treatment, it could have significant clinical implications.”

“Patients with metabolic syndrome often face a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Finding an effective treatment could improve the quality of life and long-term health outcomes for these individuals,” he said.

“Metabolic syndrome is a global health concern, and its prevalence has been on the rise due to factors like sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits. If a synthetic ERR agonist becomes a viable treatment option, it could have a positive impact on public health by reducing the burden of metabolic syndrome-related diseases.” — Dr. Cameron Heinz

However, Dr. Heinz pointed out that “while the findings are promising, it’s essential to emphasize that further research and clinical trials are necessary to validate the effectiveness and safety of this synthetic agonist.”

“Additionally, potential side effects and long-term outcomes need to be thoroughly studied,” he added.

Dr. Burris concluded that “these drugs have the potential to treat diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, NASH, heart failure, kidney disease, and even cognitive dysfunction.”

“Improved versions of SLU-PP-332 are in development and are being optimized so that they can enter clinical trials in the near future,” he said.

Dr. Heinz agreed, saying, “The research on synthetic ERR agonists for alleviating metabolic syndrome is a compelling development in the field of medical science.”

“If [SLU-PP-332 is successful in humans], it has the potential to transform the treatment landscape for metabolic syndrome and improve the health and well-being of many patients.” — Dr. Cameron Heinz

This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.