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Published on 8 January 2009

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Leptin trial points to breakthrough

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New trials of leptin, the failed appetite suppressant, suggest that it might be made to work if combined with another drug.

Leptin is a natural hormone made by fat cells. Levels rise when excess fat is stored in the body, which signals to brain that the body has had enough to eat.

But it was found that when obese people took additional leptin they received no benefit because they already had elevated levels of the hormone in their bodies.

However, Amylin Pharmaceuticals of San Diego, US, which acquired the rights to leptin in 2006, believes it may have made a breakthrough that will put leptin back in contention.

It is now undergoing human testing in combination with pramlintide, which is the active ingredient in its diabetes drug Symlin.

Umut Ozcan, an endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital Boston said: “We believe that we’ve identified the core mechanism that causes leptin resistance. If this works in humans, it may create a new treatment plan.”

About two thirds of US adults are overweight or obese, and obesity is the number two cause, after smoking, of preventable premature death.

Copyright Press Association 2009

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