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Scripps research scientists test anti-obesity vaccine

The study is being published in an advanced, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of July 31 to August 4.

In the new study, mature male rats immunized with specific types of the active vaccine ate normally yet gained less weight and had less body fat, indicating that the vaccine directly affects the body's metabolism and energy use. This finding may be especially important to stop what is commonly known as "yo-yo dieting," the cycle of repeated loss and regain of weight experienced by many dieters. The new vaccine, which is directed against the hormone ghrelin (pronounced "grell-in"), a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate energy balance in the body, has shown the potential, in animal models at least, to put an end to that risky and often futile struggle.

These findings may mark a turning point in the treatment of obesity by confirming the effectiveness of immunopharmacotherapy to combat this serious and growing global problem. Immunopharmacotherapy engages the immune system, specifically antibodies, to bind to selected targets, directing the body's own immune response against them. This approach is being tested in a number of other areas including drug addiction, especially addiction to cocaine and nicotine.

"The study shows our vaccine slows weight gain and decreases stored fat in rats," said a senior author of the paper Kim Janda, Ph.D., who is Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, a member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, and director of the Worm Institute of Research and Medicine. "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 th
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
31-Jul-2006


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