A “FAT pill” could help millions lose weight by tricking their brains into feeling full, experts hope.
The capsule could be available in the next five years, after scientists in London were given the green light to start testing the drug in humans.
If found to be successful, the hope is that it could be a “major weapon” in solving the global obesity crisis.
The “fish oil-like” capsule works by suppressing the appetite – tricking the person into thinking they’re full.
40 volunteers aged 18-75 are being recruited by scientists at Queen Mary University of London.
The first phase will involve 20 overweight (but not obese) participants, looking at whether it really does reduce appetite.
If that’s successful, a second group of 20 volunteers will spend a further six months trialling the capsule and this time, they’ll be obese, morbidly obese or on the waiting list for a gastric bypass.
Professor Ashley Blackshaw from Queen Mary University of London said: “All our volunteers have to do is swallow capsules before every meal when the body is ready to release lots of hormones, such as insulin.
“If the trials work, this could be a major weapon in tackling the obesity crisis and type 2 diabetes.
“It could also cut the need for gastric bypass surgery which costs the NHS millions every year.”
How does it work?
The “fat pill” works by sending special food supplements directly to the lower bowl – bypassing the small intestine.
That then causes the release of hormones which suppress appetite, thanks to the release of insulin.
Dr Madusha Peiris from Queen Mary University of London added: “Getting the body to release hormones that make you feel full will reduce appetite and reduce food intake. It works in the same way as gastric bypass surgery but without the irreversible, expensive surgery which is often only available to obese patients.
“The ‘fat pill’ is just like swallowing a fish oil capsule.
“It’s a totally novel idea and we’re very excited to be proceeding to human trial. We are hopeful that the treatment will be widely available in the next five years.”
It could help to save millions of lives…
There has been a marked increase in obesity in the UK. In 1993, 15 per cent of the population was obese. In 2017, this rose to 26 per cent.
Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, as well as many cancers.
According to Cancer Research UK, obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK- more than one in 20 cancer cases are caused by excess weight.
13 different cancers have been linked to obesity:
…and money for expensive weight loss surgeries
Weight-loss surgery has increased 30-fold in the last decade, Queen Mary scientists say.
More than 8,000 operations take place annually on the NHS, and many more through private clinics.
Also called bariatric surgery, it is used as a last resort to treat people who are dangerously overweight. Privately the costs are £5,000-£8,000 for a gastric band, and up to £15,000 for gastric bypass surgery.
You could take part in the trials
The group are still recruiting for volunteers.
Anyone wishing to be involved should email firstname.lastname@example.org before March 1 2019, with their name, age and contact details.
The team is particularly keen to recruit volunteers in the South East of England as the trial is being conducted from Queen Mary University of London.
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