‘Imaginary Meal' Drug Aims to Curb Your Appetite, Drop Pounds

Local scientists are developing a drug to trick your body into thinking you ate a meal, causing your body to burn fat.

Scientists at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, in coordination with dozens of other scientists across the globe, have been working for the past ten years to develop the drug called Fexaramine.

Senior staff scientist Michael Downes said the drug has been tested on lab mice, and after five weeks, those given Fexaramine had lost 25 percent of their body fat.

Downes said it works because “normally when you have a meal, bile acids are released from your liver and they go down to the intestines. What this compound does is a mimic of bile acids and so it tricks the body into thinking the normal process that you've had a meal."

Downes said to think of it as – an imaginary meal.

Not only did the mice lose weight, scientists also discovered the drug lowered cholesterol and blood sugars. Plus, they say Fexaramine is like no other drug on the market because it does not absorb into the blood stream, which often causes side effects of the heart and brain, for instance.

Now that the drug has been proven on mice, the next step is to develop the drug for human consumption. Then, just as scientists did on mice, they will test it on humans which could take a few years.

After they’ve perfected the human dose, the drug will have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That, too, can be a lengthy process.

So in reality, the drug won’t be available to the public for at least another five or six years.

Downes said at this point, scientists can’t determine if the drug will be available over the counter or if it will be prescribed by doctors.

He said they do know it will be prescribed to those with serious weight problems.

Contact Us