Drug May Cut Belly Fat in HIV Patients
Study: Experimental Drug Tesamorelin May Help Treat HIV Lipodystrophy
Dec. 5, 2007 -- A new drug called tesamorelin may trim belly fat in HIV patients, a study shows.
The study focuses on HIV lipodystrophy --
abnormal patterns of fat buildup and fat loss in people taking drugs that
target HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
HIV lipodystrophy patients typically gain fat around the waist and lose fat
in the face, arms, and legs. Too much fat around the waist may make heart disease more likely.
Tesamorelin -- which is still in its experimental stages and hasn't been
approved by the FDA -- may help treat HIV lipodystrophy. But the drug's
long-term effects aren't clear yet.
That news appears in tomorrow's edition of The New England Journal of
The researchers included Julian Falutz, MD, of Canada's Montreal General
Hospital. They studied 412 HIV lipodystrophy patients with large waists.
First, the patients got high-tech body scans to map their body fat. They
also took cholesterol tests and completed a
survey about their body image.
Next, the patients gave themselves a shot of tesamorelin or a placebo every
day for six months. They didn't know if they got tesamorelin or the
Lastly, the patients repeated the body scans, cholesterol test, and body
Less Belly Fat
Patients taking tesamorelin shed 15% of their belly fat, compared with a 5%
rise in belly fat in those taking the placebo.
The tesamorelin patients also improved their cholesterol levels and boosted
their body image.
But nearly half of the patients taking tesamorelin made antibodies against
the drug, and six of them developed hives, notes an editorial published with the study.
Patients taking tesamorelin were more likely to quit the study over side
effects, even though side effects were similar in both groups.
Studies are needed to check tesamorelin's long-term effects, note the
researchers. Their study was funded by Theratechnologies, a Canadian company
developing tesamorelin. Falutz and several colleagues note financial ties to
Several teams of scientists have tested various drugs that boost growth
hormone, Marc Blackman, MD, observes in an editorial published with the
"Numerous questions remain" about the long-term use of such drugs,
writes Blackman, who works in Washington, D.C., for the Veterans Affairs