Health Watch - Fat: Obesity Drugs

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This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about fat in the body and in the diet, and how it affects health. Researchers have been working on new approaches to fighting obesity and the dangerous effects of fat on the body. This is important because previous drugs to help with weight loss have turned out to be dangerous.

The drug Fen-phen was removed from the market more than a decade ago because of life-threatening side effects that caused heart damage. Now researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are studying the way components of that drug affect the brain so that new drugs without the side effects may be developed. The drug works in the brain to suppress appetite, but the problem was that it also affected other tissues, such as the heart. Dr. Joel Elmquist, a UT Southwestern pharmacologist, says it may be possible to allow the effects of the drug on the brain to block appetite, while blocking its effects on the heart. That’s going to require more research.

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April 2009

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