Southampton scientists create drug that could exercise for you

So you want to eat Domino’s every night of the week and still have that sexy summer bod? Scientists at the University of Southampton are developing a molecule that will […]


So you want to eat Domino’s every night of the week and still have that sexy summer bod? Scientists at the University of Southampton are developing a molecule that will mimic the effects of exercise and may lead to a genuine weight loss drug.

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Who wants to workout when you can just take a pill that will keep you fit? The molecule, named ‘Compound 14’, that is being developed by University of Southampton scientists is hoped to combat obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The way that ‘Compound 14’ is supposed to work is by tricking the body’s cells into thinking that they have run out of energy.

The molecule inhibits the cellular function of the enzyme ATIC. This makes cells believe they have run out of energy, and activates the cell’s energy sensor, AMPK. This causes the cells to produce more energy, and speeds up the metabolism of the person.

Researchers discovered that fasting glucose levels were significantly reduced through activating AMPK with ‘Compound 14’.

They also realised, through testing the compound on some “obese” mice, that it caused a notable loss of weight in the subjects.

The molecule was tested on two groups of mice. One group was on a normal diet, whilst the other was on a high fat diet. The mice on the high fat diet, as well as becoming obese, produced a glucose intolerance.

When the compound was given to the mice on the normal diet their weight and glucose levels remained normal. However, when given to the obese mice, they witnessed a lowering in their glucose levels to what would be considered normal.

Ali Tavassoli, Professor of chemical biology at the University of Southampton said:

There is a lot of evidence from previous studies that if you could selectively activate AMPK with a small molecule, it could have potential benefits in the treatment of several diseases.

He went on to say:

These include type 2 diabetes, by acting as an exercise mimetic and increasing the uptake and usage of glucose and oxygen by cells. 

The next step for scientists is to develop ‘Compound 14’ in to a stable long term treatment that, if found to be safe, can be used to treat diabetic or obese people.

What do think about these exciting advances in medicine at the University of Southampton? Let us know in the Comments section below.