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Beating Belly Bulge With Drugs?

Scientists Working on Drugs to Slow Stomach Expansion and Curb Eating
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 4, 2008 -- Scientists in London are putting a new spin on weight loss by developing drugs that keep the belly from bulging when you eat.

The researchers' strategy is to slow down the stomach from ballooning to make room for food.

To do that, the scientists have made two experimental drugs that target protein receptors called P2Y1 and P2Y11, which are found in the stomach wall and other parts of the digestive tract, including the colon. The drugs block those receptors, slowing stomach expansion. The net result is less room in the stomach for food, which could mean eating less.

So far, the scientists have only tested their experimental drugs on colon cells -- not stomach cells -- from guinea pigs. The drugs haven't been tested for weight loss or safety in animals or people yet.

But the researchers argue that the stomach-expanding protein receptors are found in people, too.

"This would be a brand new approach to weight control," Brian King, PhD, of University College London's department of neuroscience, physiology, and pharmacology, says in a news release.

King suggests that drugs targeting P2Y1 and P2Y11 "might be a useful alternative" to gastric banding or stomach stapling in obese people seeking weight loss.

King and colleagues report their findings in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

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