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Can a Pill or Injection Help Us Eat Less and Burn More Calories?

The mantra of healthcare professionals when talking about weight loss is plain and simple: Eat less and exercise more. The dream of many people who are overweight or obese would be to simply inject something that would help them to do just that.

Ridiculous? Some researchers in the United Kingdom think otherwise.

According to recent research published in the April 18, 2006 issue of the International Journal of Obesity, the hormone oxyntomodulin has been found to increase energy expenditure in addition to decreasing food intake in overweight and obese humans.

To determine whether oxyntomodulin alters energy expenditure in addition to reducing food intake, 15 healthy overweight and obese men and women between the ages of 23 and 49 were randomized to a double-blind controlled crossover trial. The study subjects received injections of oxyntomodulin three times daily for four consecutive days. Participants were advised to maintain their normal dietary and exercise regimen.

The researchers found that oxyntomodulin administration reduced energy (calorie) intake by 17 percent while increasing energy expediture by 26 percent.

“A reduction in body weight of 0.5% was observed during the oxyntomodulin administration period,” write the researchers, who suggest that their study data “supports the role of oxyntomodulin as a potential anti-obesity therapy.”


Steve Bloom is a member of the Department of Metabolic Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital in London. He was a lead researcher on the oxyntomodulin study:

How does the hormone oxyntomodulin cause increased energy expenditure and decreased energy intake?

Oxyntomodulin is normally released from the gut or, in weight treatment, given by injection. It acts on the physiological brain centers which control appetite and energy expenditure.

Why are the study results important to an overweight or obese person with type 2 diabetes?

We show an increased energy expenditure with oxyntomodulin, which also causes loss of appetite. The actual rate of weight loss we have observed with oxyntomodulin given by patients themselves regularly at home is greater than any agent found so far (Diabetes. 2005;54:2390-2395). Good weight reduction may actually cure type 2 and will always help.


John Burt, MD, is the chief executive officer of Thiakis Limited. Thiakis is the exclusive licensee of the researchers’ intellectual property for oxyntomodulin. Thiakis is developing oxyntomodulin for the treatment of obesity. Dr. Burt had this to say about oxyntomodulin:

Thiakis is building on the academic research of Steve Bloom to embark on this development process, during which we will confirm the final delivery form(s), i.e., whether the product is to be injectable and/ or oral and/or [available in some] other form of delivery.

With appropriate financial backing from the investment community, Thiakis hopes to bring this product to the market as soon as possible, but it will take at least six years in order to fulfill the requirements of the FDA and other regulatory bodies around the world.

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