Volume 11 Issue 95
Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 13-Apr-2009 
Next Update - 14:00 UC 08:00 EST 14-Apr-2009

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
Vidyya.
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Developing safer, more effective drugs to fight obesity

(13 Apr 2008: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- Safer and more effective drugs to fight obesity appear to be around the corner, but researchers still await a complete understanding of the biological underpinnings of the complex disease, according to an article scheduled for the April 13 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine. Obesity is a growing epidemic that affects more than 72 million people in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

C&EN assistant editor Carmen Drahl notes in the magazine's two-part cover story that, despite billions of dollars spent on obesity research, researchers still do not fully understand the mechanisms of the disease. This lack of understanding is behind the recent setbacks among several once-promising anti-obesity drugs, according to the article. These problems include a wide range of side effects such as heart valve defects, high blood pressure, and psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety, the article notes.

But researchers have recently made inroads into why some of those setbacks occurred in the first place. These insights have led to the development of promising new drugs that are more targeted for key appetite-control receptors in the brain and elsewhere in the body, according to the article. As a result, these drugs pose a lower likelihood of side effects while promoting weight loss. However, the reasons behind some obesity drugs' psychiatric side effects are not as clear cut, and researchers are still eager to learn more about how the brain controls food intake and how it communicates with the gut. "Obesity is so complex and so multi-factorial that it's hard to find a silver bullet," says one scientist involved in obesity drug development. "I think we're just scratching the surface."

"Weighing options: Obesity researchers assess what it will take to move forward in the wake of drug-trial setbacks"
Chemical & Engineering News
http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/87/8715cover.html

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