Imagine shedding pounds and enhancing your endurance without breaking a sweat. Researchers at the University of Florida have been working on a groundbreaking drug, SLU-PP-332, that might make this dream a reality. Tested on mice, this drug has shown to dupe the body into thinking it’s exercising, resulting in weight loss, amplified endurance, and a supercharged metabolism all without influencing appetite or actual physical exertion levels.
Dubbed as an “exercise mimetic,” SLU-PP-332 has garnered attention for its potential in treating conditions like obesity, diabetes, and age-induced muscle loss. While it’s still in the nascent stages, its implications are stirring excitement in the medical community. Unlike certain appetite-suppressing drugs such as Ozempic, this compound doesn’t impact hunger or food consumption. Instead, it energizes a natural metabolic pathway that usually reacts to exercise, making the body operate as though it’s gearing up for an endurance event.
Thomas Burris, a leading pharmacy professor at the University of Florida, shared insights on the new drug’s function: “The compound instructs the skeletal muscle to undergo changes akin to those seen during endurance workouts.” Burris further elucidated that upon administering the drug, the body’s metabolism shifts to using fatty acids, mirroring patterns seen during fasting or rigorous exercise. Consequently, weight loss ensues.
In collaboration with teams from Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University, Burris unveiled his findings on September 22 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. SLU-PP-332 focuses on a protein group known as ERRs key activators of significant metabolic pathways in energy-intensive tissues, including muscles, the heart, and the brain. Though these proteins amplify during physical activity, they’ve been challenging to stimulate using pharmaceutical means.
Earlier this year, the research indicated that SLU-PP-332 successfully increased the activity of ERRs. Observations showed that mice given this compound could run 70% longer and 45% farther than their untreated counterparts. In a more recent study, obese mice treated with this drug for a month showcased a 12% reduction in body weight, despite unchanged dietary or physical activity habits.
Furthermore, impending publications from the Burris lab suggest that this compound might also offer benefits for heart failure by reinforcing heart muscle strength. As promising as SLU-PP-332 sounds, its development journey has just begun. Initial tests haven’t flagged any major side effects. The goal now is to modify its structure to transform it from an injection to a more accessible pill form. Once this is achieved, the next stages involve extensive animal testing before progressing to human trials.
While some exercise mimetics have been explored before, they’ve yet to reach the consumer market. Historically, crafting drugs targeting obesity has been tricky due to its intricate nature. However, with the success of drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy that unexpectedly led to weight loss, there’s a renewed enthusiasm to explore novel treatment paths. Burris remains optimistic, highlighting the drug’s potential, especially in safeguarding muscle mass during weight loss or aging phases. He remarked, “This could potentially play a role in enhancing health as individuals grow older.”