In tests, obese mice fed a high fat diet saw a 10% drop in body weight four days after receiving the jab… The slimming effect was not seen in a matched group of 10 untreated mice.
Lead researcher Dr Keith Haffer, from the US company Braasch Biotech in South Dakota, said: “This study demonstrates the possibility of treating obesity with vaccination…”
The new vaccine uses a modified form of somatostatin, a peptide protein molecule that functions as a hormone. In both mice and humans somatostatin suppresses growth hormones that boost metabolism and cause weight loss. The vaccine “flags up” somatostatin so that it is seen as a potential threat by the immune system. It causes the body to generate antibodies that neutralise the peptide. In mice, the vaccine reduced body weight without affecting normal levels of growth hormones.
Areas to think about:
- Why is combating obesity important? What are some of health impacts of obesity?
- What challenges remain between trials on mice, and bringing the drug to market for humans?
- Do you have any theoretical concerns about the vaccination, either from an ethical or scientific perspective?