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by Alicia Ni Ghrainne, Thursday, October 30, 2014 | Categories: Obesity

With so little in the UK/EU pipeline in terms of weight loss treatments, there is a great focus now on the phase III trials of Beloranib, a prospective obesity drug made by Zafgen. Xenical is currently the only treatment on the market for weight loss and is a lipase inhibitor rather than a fat burning drug or appetite suppressant.

The mechanism by which the drug works is very different to other obesity drugs in that Belnoarib redirects the way the body deals with fat. It encourages the release of fat stored in adipose tissue and restores the ability of the liver to deal with fat. As well as working as a fat burner, the drug works independently of the hypothalamus, as an appetite suppressant. Previous clinical trials have shown that the drug is very successful and approval by the Food and drug Administration (FDA) looks promising.

For initial approval, Zafgen are not looking to approve the drug as an out and out obesity drug, and rather, a treatment for a condition known as Prader-Willi Syndrome. This syndrome is a genetic disorder which can cause an insatiable hunger in patients and eventually, very serious and life-threatening obesity. Patients who suffer from this syndrome can choke on their food, overeat to dangerous levels and rupture their stomachs. The average life span for sufferers is on average, only 32 years of age.

The latest phase III study is looking at obese adolescents and adults with the condition in a placebo controlled, double blind, randomized, trial. 84 patients with this condition are being tested, some who will receive the drug and others who will receive a placebo. Phase 2a results were encouraging so good results are expected here too.

All going well, it is likely that the drug will be approved for patients with this condition. Zafgen also suggest that the drug will be appropriate for patients who have suffered from hypothalamic injury, and therefore, have issues with weight control as a result. Perhaps patients who are at the upper end of obesity and who are at high risk of mortality might also benefit in time, but not right now. Now the focus is on this particular syndrome and perhaps those with obesity problems related to brain damage. However, plans are in place for a drug that might be better suited to the broader population. Here’s hoping that exciting results are on the way. In the meantime, Xenical is still available for obese patients to try and is the only weight loss treatment on the market. This drug does not work on the central nervous system and is not an appetite suppressant but can work well with some patients.

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