Gastroenterology

The researches find that the an anti-obesity drug targeting people with rare genetic conditions that contribute to their obesity. Led by Andrea Haqq, clinical scientist at the ADI and associate professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Pediatrics, therefore the drug trial will also be tied to a genetic study already underway attempting to create a more comprehensive picture of the genes that are linked to obesity.

Anti-obesity drug targeting

“One thing that people don’t always recognize about obesity, especially childhood obesity, is that it is very complex. It’s not as simple as eating too much,” said Haqq. Because “One of those complex components is the genetic influences on obesity; which actually account for 60 to 70%t of what sets our body mass index (BMI).”

The clinical trial; sponsor by Rhythm Pharmaceuticals and expected to begin in late July; will test the effects of the drug setmelanotide on participants with obesity who have either Bardet-Biedl syndrome or Alström syndrome; but two rare genetic disorders that include obesity as a symptom. Therefore In studies of adults with obesity with other rare genetic disorders; setmelanotide is find to have a profound effect on weight loss nearly 50% in some cases.

Rare genetic disorders

“What’s really exciting about this drug is that this is one of the first anti-obesity drugs that doesn’t have the cardiovascular side-effects that previous drugs had;” she said. “As we gain more experience with it; I’m hopeful this trial will make a big splash and lead to other trials for other populations.”

The trial will run over the course of a year. After a two-to-three-week screening phase; participants will be part of a 14-week double blind test with the drug and a placebo before moving to a 38-week treatment with the drug. Because The primary measure at the end of the study will be the proportion of participants who lose 10% of their body mass or more after 52 weeks; said Haqq.

Conducting a genetic screening

Along with the drug trial, Haqq is also conducting a genetic screening study to analyze the DNA of children and adults who are obese, and have been identify as having hyperphagia; or excessive hunger. Through the study; Haqq’s team is seeking to add to the list of genes known to be associated with obesity. It’s hoped the findings will help physicians better recognize the physical signs of genetic disorders contributing to a patient’s obesity; including symptoms, medical history and family history.