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Experimental drug helps some with appetite control

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In people with binge eating disorder, pleasure and reward brain responses are strong.

But what if a drug could target these pleasure receptors in an antagonistic way, rendering them less powerful?

A doctoral student in psychiatry at the University of Cambridge may be on to a new treatment that helps curb appetite - and possibly promote long-term weight loss.

The drug

The drug, a mu-opioid receptor antagonist called GSK1521498, was shown to reduce appetite for sweet and fatty foods in a small study.

Sixty-three obese binge eaters were randomly assigned to three groups: one group received 2 mg/day of the drug, another received 5 mg/day and the third group received a placebo.

While the 2 mg/day and placebo group did not experience significant changes in appetite or weight, the 5 mg/day group had a "a significant reduction in hedonic responses to sweetened dairy products and reduced their caloric intake, especially of high-fat desserts, during unrestricted buffet dining," according to Psychiatry Online.

Hope for weight loss?

Even though the drug helped curb appetite, weight loss did not ensue over the 28-day study period. Researchers suggest this might be related to the fact that study participants could eat freely outside of the lab meals. They also note that taking the drug for a longer period of time might have brought about weight loss results.

The findings, the authors note, are "a promising area for future research, including determining whether these findings will lead to useful clinical applications."

Source: Psychiatry Online