A drug that promotes weight loss in obese mice by causing them to burn off excess calories is reported in a study published in Nature Communications this week. The drug causes the mice to generate more brown and beige fat, which are specialised tissues that burn lipid molecules to generate heat.
Alexander Pfeifer and colleagues have now shown that a cellular signalling pathway driven by the enzyme soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) activates the formation of brown and beige fat in obese mice. After treatment with an experimental drug that stimulates sGC the mice burn off more lipids; this then causes them to become leaner due to a reduction in white (storage) fat.
Although the drug has not been tested in humans, the authors speculate that it may have a favourable safety profile as it is chemically similar and belongs to the same class as the drug riociguat, which has recently been approved for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. The authors hope that their findings may provide a potential candidate for the treatment of obesity and certain associated illnesses.