Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In Brief: Obesity Vaccine, 'Scorpion Venom' Does Good

Interesting new developments in health science show promise for ending obesity with a shot and killing tumors with synthetic scorpion venom.

Obesity vaccine
Earlier, I posted on research at Yale that identified an
enzyme in your body linked to obesity. This got me to thinking of a day when doctors may prescribe a fat pill to make us slimmer. Well, new research from the Scripps Research Institute in California suggests that day may be closer than I thought.

According to
a report at the BBC, Scripps researchers have come up with a vaccine that "prompts the body to produce antibodies against ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger and weight gain." While the vaccine may curb hunger, rats on the drug that ate normally still lost more weight than non-medicated rats, suggesting that ghrelin has an affect on metabolism as well.

While the study's results are intriguing, I think it sounds too good to be true. And more tests are sure to come. One professor told the BBC, "Since ghrelin is present in the brain you might start an immune system response against the brain. It's not necessarily a very safe thing to do."

Another innovative tumor treatment
Recently, I described an
innovative treatment for tumors that involves choking tumors with bubbles. And I just read at the BBC that another unlikely hero in the fight against tumors has arisen: synthetic scorpion venom. In the BBC article, we learn that TM-601, "a synthetic version of a peptide that naturally occurs in the venom of the giant yellow Israeli scorpion," can pass through the bloodstream and bind to the cells of a particularly nasty form of cancer: glioma brain tumors. Just eight percent of patients survive this disease. The good news: the synthetic-venom treatment is already being tested on patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.