Dr. Janda is confident his ghrelin-attacking vaccine will fight obesity
The long-awaited good news that overweight and obese people have been expecting to happen for years may have finally arrived thanks to some new research released this week. But don't hold your breath thinking it will involve any permanent lifestyle changes in your diet or physical activity levels. Nope. Instead, scientists think they may have developed the be-all, end-all holy grail for weight loss: an obesity vaccine.
Lead researcher Dr. Kim D. Janda, a professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute, injected lab rats with the vaccine which targets the ghrelin levels to help stablize weight. I recently blogged about similar research on this hunger-controlling hormone by Michelle Bohan at Iowa State University who said ghrelin can "stimulate food intake" and lead to obesity.
Dr. Janda's vaccine supposedly reduces the levels of ghrelin in the body so you don't get as hungry and, thus, lose weight. But the rats in his study continued to eat just as much food as the control rats and yet they still saw "about a 20 or 30 percent reduction in weight" because of this obesity vaccine.
"We have enabled the immune system to recognize a molecule that it ordinarily won't recognize," Dr. Janda noted.
However, it is worth noting that the mice were fed an unpalatable low-carb, low-fat diet and Dr. Janda wonders how effective the vaccine would be on what tends to be a high-carb, high-fat American diet.
"Whether active immunization against ghrelin would help prevent the development of obesity caused by … high-fat ‘Western’ diets or would facilitate weight loss once obesity is established" is unknown, the researcher concluded.
So the rats were fed a mix of low-carb and low-fat diet, eh? No wonder they lost weight! Can you imagine having to eat such a disgusting diet as that all the time?! Vaccine or not, I do believe anyone starving themselves on a diet like that would no doubt lose weight and feel like they've been run over by a truck in the process!
The findings of this study will be published in advance of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.
The researchers are excited that this may be the real breakthrough weight loss miracle they have been looking to find for decades and sincerely believe this will help bring the upward obesity trend downward again.
"The study shows our vaccine slows weight gain and decreases stored fat in rats," Dr. Janda explained. "While food intake was unchanged in all testing groups, those who were given the most effective vaccines gained the least amount of weight. To have an impact on appetite and weight gain, ghrelin first has to move from the bloodstream into the brain-where, over long periods, it stimulates the retention of a level of stored energy as fat. Our study is the first published evidence proving that preventing ghrelin from reaching the central nervous system can produce a desired reduction in weight gain."
Other researchers and companies have been busy working on a ghrelin-attacking vaccine for the past few years and human testing is already underway.
Dr. Janda said he's not ready to try his vaccine in humans yet, but will be trying various formulations in larger animals very soon with the hopes that human testing can begin by 2008.
"We want to do real basic work and make sure we do all our homework before we look at it in humans," he stressed. "We could do it quickly, but it's prudent to know exactly what's going on."
They are currently looking for a major pharmaceutical company to come on board to help market and develop a usable obesity vaccine. It is uncertain at this point if one shot or multiple shots would be needed to bring about weight loss. Of course, they are also working on making the vaccine into an oral medicine that may be available for doctors to write as a prescription.
Ho-hum. How long have we been told about the great weight loss pills that are supposed to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry and help the millions of overweight and obese people lose weight?! Last year everyone was talking about obestatin being the next great weight loss solution in a bottle. Now we've moved on to Janda's obesity vaccine.
WHEN WILL THE MADNESS FINALLY END! If you are fat, then stop waiting on science to make you a pill to lose weight. It is time for you to find yourself an eating and exercise routine that you can stick with for the rest of your life and execute it. Why are we making weight loss so difficult?
I lost 180 pounds by livin' la vida low-carb in 2004 by doing just that and refusing to give up when the going got rough. ANYONE can do the same if they stop making excuses for themselves about why they can't lose weight. Can't never could so make today the beginning of your CAN DO attitude to change your life forever!
While this research is promising for people who struggle with their weight, Dr. Janda is quick to point out this is not the ultimate answer for the obesity problem.
"What we are saying-and what our study confirms-is that this looks like a serious workable solution to the problem," Dr. Janda stated. "And while much more research is needed to understand the full therapeutic potential of immunopharmacotherapy in combating obesity, these initial results are extremely positive. Right now it appears that active vaccination against ghrelin is one avenue that can slow weight gain and fat build-up in the body."
Interestingly, Dr. Janda was working on a vaccine against drug addiction when they stumbled upon this area of research regarding obesity and shifted gears.
"While there were numerous possible hormones involved in obesity that could be targeted, we decided that ghrelin would be a good starting point to examine such a hypothesis," Dr. Janda said.
Currently there are three active vaccines being used in the lab rats: Ghr1, Ghr2, and Ghr3. Ghr1 and Ghr3 have been the most effective in the tests so far compared with Ghr2 and the control models.
The Janda study was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disorders and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.
You can contact Dr. Kim D. Janda about his research by using this contact page on his web site.