To help address the global obesity epidemic, scientists are developing a new class of compounds called “micelle sequestrant polymers,” or MSPs, that could prevent fat particles from getting absorbed in the body and thus potentially reduce weight gain. They report on their novel agents, which they tested on mice, in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules.
Research has shown that worldwide, obesity rates have been climbing for years. Treatments for overweight and obesity include diet and exercise, surgery and prescription medications. But currently available drugs can have serious side effects, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease and depression. So Cory Berkland and colleagues set out to find new kinds of pharmaceuticals to fight weight gain.
Targeting the body’s process of absorbing fat, the researchers designed a class of polymers that capture fat particles called micelles in the intestines so they can’t be digested. Instead, they pass through the gut and are excreted. In tests, mice who took these MSPs had nine to 10 times the amount of triglycerides — the main dietary fat — in their feces than the control animals. Additionally, because the MSPs pass through the body unabsorbed, the researchers say they could provide a safe approach for long-term treatment.