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Aussie Researchers Say A Simple Nasal Spray Could Curb Obesity

Australian scientists report that a simple nasal spray could decrease appetite and increase the metabolic rate in people who are obese.

Researchers from Monash University have successfully tested the spray on obese mice after working out how two naturally occurring hormones -- leptin and insulin -- impact obesity.

The same team explained in a 2015 paper that leptin  -- an appetite suppressant generated in fat cells -- and insulin -- produced by the pancreas when the level of glucose rises in the blood -- actually work together to "stimulate the burning of body fat".

The new research released today in 'Cell Reports' found that elevated levels of the two enzymes responsible for controlling these hormones (PTP1B and TVPTP) dampened the fat burning effects, leading to the "development and maintenance of obesity in mice".

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After piecing together this complicated hormones puzzle, the researchers -- led by Professor Tony Tiganis -- blocked the two enzymes in mice by administering a nasal spray made up of two commercially available drugs.

One of them is the contraceptive RU486 and the other has been used in treatment trials for type 2 diabetes.

“Both drugs are already commercially available. The data from our studies -- and the ease with which they can be delivered in a nasal spray -- make them a viable pharmacological approach to promote weight loss in obesity,” Professor Tiganis said in a statement.

Professor Tiganis explained obesity occurs when "food intake exceeds energy expenditure".

"So to promote weight loss in severely obese people they need to both lower their food intake and increase energy expenditure -- without the need for increased physical exercise, which can often be difficult to maintain,” he said.

To achieve weight loss without eating less and exercising more, the activity of brown and beige fat cells needs to be promoted, which is what happens when those two pesky enzymes are blocked. Simple!

Professor Tiganis told The Herald Sun that "If we can repress feeding and increase energy expenditure in people it would be a great way to help them lose weight."

“We have done this in mice at the moment with these drugs, we do not know if it is going to work in humans."

The Melbourne research team is hoping to eventually conduct human trials to find out whether the nasal spray could be an effective treatment for obesity.

The study reported that there are currently 650 million people globally -- and more than one in four Australians -- who are obese.

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