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General Health Channel
Reported June 7, 2011

Losing Weight With Asthma Drug

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Australian researchers have tested a new generation of asthma medication on a small sample of men, the effects show a high potential for improving fat and protein metabolism. The study involved seeing how various hormones affect the metabolism, specifically a class of hormones called catecholamines, which regulate heart rate, metabolism and breathing.

The new generation asthma drug used called Formoterol, is a synthetic catecholamine. Although, the metabolic effects haven’t previously been studied, therapy doses given to animals have shown it stimulates the metabolism without affecting the heart.

"The generation of drugs before Formoterol was exploited in the livestock industry around 20 years ago – to reduce the fat and increase the protein content of meat. Unfortunately, these older drugs also caused a faster heart rate,” Paul Lee, Ph.D., study leader and endocrinologist at Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, was quoted as saying.

“Formoterol is a new generation of this class of medication. It is highly selective for the kind of catecholamine receptors found in the lungs, and not those in the heart,” Dr. Lee said.

Eight healthy men were tested in the study. Dr. Lee sourced the drug in its oral form, found the dose needed to give a metabolic effect, and gave it to the men over a week.

"Their energy metabolism increased by more than 10 percent, fat burning increased by more than 25 percent, while protein burning fell by 15 percent. Although whole body metabolism increased, these men burned fat while reducing the burning of protein. That's a good thing because in the long run these effects may lead to a loss in fat mass and an increase in muscle,” Dr. Lee said.

Dr. Lee says all eight men tolerated the medication well, without any significant increase in their heart rate. The next step will be to test the drug over a longer period of time and in a larger sample of people. The researchers will determine if the beneficial effects translate into improvement in body composition, health and function.

(SOURCE: The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting Boston, MA, June 5, 2011.)


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