U.S. scientists are developing an “imaginary meal” pill to fight obesity.
The tablet, which was reported on in the Journal of Nature Medicine, tricks the body into thinking it has consumed food. Early tests on mice effectively halted weight gain, controlled blood sugar, reduced levels of white fat and lowered cholesterol levels, according to The Telegraph.
Lead scientist Dr. Ronald Evans, director of the Salk Institute’s Gene Expression Laboratory in La Jolla, California, said: “This pill is like an imaginary meal. It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food, so the body starts clearing out space to store it. But there are no calories and no change in appetite,” according to the newspaper.
The pill releases a drug, fexaramine, which activates a protein called the farensoid X receptor (FXR) which plays a role in the body’s release of bile acids from the liver and how the body digests food and stores sugars and fats.
Fexaramine acts on the FXR pathways and is important as it only functions in the gut and does not dissolve into the blood as other hunger-suppressants do.
According to scientists, obese mice which were given the drug daily for five weeks stopped gaining weight and lost fat. Most also exhibited lower blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels than the control mice.