JUL 24, 2018 1:24 PM PDT

The Chili Pepper Drug Aims To Combat Obesity

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

A new drug was recently developed based on capsaicin, the compound found in chili peppers that is responsible for their spicy properties, was seen to cause long-term weight loss and improve metabolic health in mice ingesting a high-fat diet. According to studies at the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy, the drug, now called Metabocin, was created to release capsaicin slowly during the day in order to exert anti-obesity effects without adverse side-effects. "We observed marked improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels, insulin response, and symptoms of fatty liver disease," explained lead investigator Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan. The results of the research study were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, an international conference led by experts on food and fluid intake. The results concluded that Metabocin reversed the damaging effects of a high-fat diet.

Watch Video Below To Understand More About The Science of Spiciness:

Metabocin was developed to be taken orally and to target specific receptors found on fat cells. These particular receptors are called TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1) and when stimulated lead to white fat cells to start to burn the accumulated energy instead of storing that energy. This process, in theory, is believed to cause weight loss. However, an important question remained for researchers if Metabocin remained effective when administered long-term and if any adverse effects would outweigh the benefits. So, the experimental mice remained on the drug for 8 months and the results showed that weight loss was maintained with no evidence of safety issues. There are more experiments planned to see how long that weight loss can be maintained, but overall the results are promising. "It proved safe and was well tolerated by the mice," Thyagarajan concluded. "Developing Metabocin as a potent anti-obesity treatment shows promise as part of a robust strategy for helping people struggling with obesity."

The research study might give the idea that ingesting spicy foods will encourage weight loss, however, biochemically speaking it might not always work since most of the capsaicin present in the food is not well absorbed by the body. Metabocin was designed to carry a modified version of the capsaicin so it can be easily absorbed.

Source: Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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