Addiction Drug Causes Rapid Weight Loss in Rats

Findings offers hope of new treatments for severe obesity in humans

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 20, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Vigabatrin, a medication that holds potential as a treatment for drug addiction, has been found to cause rapid weight loss in animals.

A study done by U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory found that animals bred to be obese lost up to 19 percent of their total weight while non-obese animals lost 12 percent to 20 percent after being on vigabatrin for a short time.

"Our results appear to demonstrate that vigabatrin induced satiety in these animals," study leader Amy DeMarco, of the Brookhaven laboratory, said in a DOE news release.

The study was published online Aug. 20 in the journal Synapse.

Vigabatrin is in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Phase II clinical trials as a possible treatment to break cocaine and methamphetamine addiction.

Brookhaven researchers have previously uncovered a strong link between obesity and addiction, including similar changes in the brains of the obese and cocaine addicts. That lead to tests in which 50 genetically bred "fat" and normal-weight animals were regularly either dosed with various amounts of vigabatrin or a placebo for up to 40 days.

At the end of the experiment, all the animals given vigabatrin weighed significantly less and had consumed less food than the controls.

"The fact that these results occurred in genetically obese animals offers hope that this drug could potentially treat severe obesity," Stephen Dewey, who has conducted more than 20 years of preclinical research with this medication, said in a lab release. "This would appear to be true even if the obesity results from binge eating, as this disorder is characterized by eating patterns that are similar to drug-taking patterns in those with cocaine dependency."

More information

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has more about understanding drug addiction.

SOURCE: Department of Energy/Brookhaven National Laboratory, news release, Aug. 20, 2008


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