Breakthrough in treating diseases linked to obesity
Researchers at two local universities have developed a drug that can treat diseases related to obesity.
The new drug, ABarginase, which can treat prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, recently won the grand prize at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions.
Researchers from Polytechnic University and the Chinese University said the drug is a "safe and long-lasting cure to multiple obesity-related diseases."
They said following an eight-week observation that body weight, fatty mass, blood glucose levels and other characteristic features of diabetes in obese mice returned to normal levels after using the drug while on a normal diet.
Alisa Shum Sau-wun, associate professor in School of Biomedical Sciences at CUHK, said: "Currently, some diabetes drugs are very ineffective, others have adverse side effects, such as increasing risk of cancer. There are also diabetes drugs that cause obesity."
And the researchers reported: "Effects were apparent after the first injection. Fatty liver could be entirely reversed after regular use of the drug."
The drug uses arginine starvation, which suppresses fat synthesis, promotes fat breakdown and sensitizes cells to insulin.
They also found there is no drug resistance in a drug that exists naturally in the human body.
Shum said patients need one injection per week for the new drug while older drugs have to be taken two to three times daily.
Thomas Leung Yun-Chung, a Lo Ka Chung Charitable Foundation professor in pharmaceutical sciences at PolyU, said most people would be able to use the drug. He added: "All the test animals got much healthier after taking our drug."
Leung said the belief is that ABarginase should be much cheaper than existing drugs.
There is no drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for nonalcoholic fatty liver.
Patent applications have been filed in multiple jurisdictions. Researchers are now scaling up production of ABarginase in preparation for clinical trials.