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New Antibody Treats Diabetes Symptoms in Monkeys

Neil Donaghy | December 7th, 2012

A new antibody that causes weight loss has been shown to work on monkeys, according to research published in the November 28th issue of Science Translational Magazine. Preclinical trials appeared to show the lab-engineered antibody improved insulin sensitivity, and could help in the fight against type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Yang Li, the scientific director at Amgen, the company that developed the treatment, described the results as “profound and very encouraging,” adding that the antibody is yet to be tested on humans.

New antibody may help with managing diabetes

The new research began as a study of a molecule, FGF21, which is produced in the body during starvation, and appears to activate brown fat, the fat-burning cells found most commonly in slender people and children. The molecule does not remain stable in the blood, and is therefore not practical as a treatment.

Li’s team attempted to emulate the pathways activated by FGF21 by developing an engineered antibody, called mimAb1. They tested the new antibody on ten obese monkeys, giving them two injections over a three-week period. After five to six weeks, each monkey had lost 10% of its body weight. The weight loss was maintained at least nine weeks after the second injection – without any reduction in calorie intake. Low blood sugar levels did not occur, nor were there any other significant side effects reported in the monkeys.

Li’s researchers believe it will be years before a product can be developed for human use.

Obesity epidemic

A third of Americans are obese, and the numbers are expected to rise in 2013. Type 2 diabetes is a common consequence of obesity, usually treated with a diabetes diet and regular exercise, sometimes with insulin or other medication.

Despite the excitement surrounding the new findings, the American Diabetes Association is quick to point out that obesity medications are generally not effective as a sole treatment or in the long-term, and reversing diabetes through diet remains the most effective measure. Many doctors, such as the expert physicians at The Center For Medical Weight Loss, have successfully helped patients combat pre diabetes and diabetes with multi-dimensional diet and exercise programs.

“We see diabetic patients all the time who lose weight and no longer need insulin,” says Dr. Michael Kaplan, the founder of The Center For Medical Weight Loss. “When patients lose 5% – 10% of their body weight, it is a given that they will reduce their blood sugar significantly; many no longer need medication.”

Diabetic diet for weight loss

A diabetes diet is the same as any healthy diet. Type 2 sufferers should eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and any other low fat, low calorie food. Carbohydrates should be kept to a minimum.

The glycemic index measures how quickly a specific food causes a rise in blood sugar levels, and is a helpful guide for people with type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise is also a basic requirement for weight loss.

While the medical world awaits further news on Amgen’s research, doctors say that a proper diabetic diet for weight loss is still the best way to combat type 2 diabetes. The physicians at The Center For Medical Weight Loss have helped produce thousands of successful weight loss stories by custom-designing diet and exercise programs to suit each unique individual’s needs and goals. To find out if there is a Center near you, enter your zip code in the box to the right. Special introductory offers are available at select locations.