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Drug May Help Keep Weight Down, Even on a High-Fat Diet, Lab Tests Show

Nov. 4, 2008 -- Scientists hunting for a fat-burning drug have a new candidate that may help keep extra weight off, even on a high-fat diet.

But don't plan on celebrating with fettuccine Alfredo and cheesecake just yet.

So far, the experimental drug has only been tested in mice. But when those mice got a high daily dose of the drug for three months, they didn't gain weight on a high-fat diet. A lower dose of the drug wasn't as effective.

The experimental drug doesn't have a brand name yet. For now, it's called SRT1720. It targets the SIRT1 gene, boosting the mice's fat metabolism as if calories were scarce, not abundant.

Mice also gained endurance and strength while on the high dose of the drug, and they didn't develop insulin resistance, a condition that precedes type 2 diabetes.

The mice didn't show any weird behavior -- such as picky eating, excessive activity, or gut problems -- while taking the drug, the study shows.

The drug is a "prime candidate" for research on SIRT1 treatment for metabolic disorders, write the scientists, who included Jerome Feige of France's Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire.

Several employees of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a GlaxoSmithKline company that is developing SRT1720, also worked on the study, which appears in Cell Metabolism.

SRT1720 is a long way from being ready for use in people. But there's already a low-tech way to prevent weight gain and also benefit the heart, brain, bones, and the rest of the body. That's the timeless combination of a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.

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