What agents are being investigated for the treatment of obesity?

Updated: Jun 09, 2021
  • Author: Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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The increasing knowledge that has come on the heels of the discovery of leptin by Friedman and colleagues in 1994 has spurred a whirlwind of research that has identified several potential pharmaceuticals. However, safety standards for obesity medications are necessarily high. Tolerance for adverse effects is limited; most persons who are obese are fairly healthy in the short term, but the risk for adverse drug effects is enhanced because patients must take antiobesity medications for extended periods (possibly for the rest of their lives).

Agents in early phases of investigation that may yet prove useful against obesity include the following:

  • Ghrelin antagonists,

  • Alpha–melanocyte-stimulating hormone analogs

  • Enterostatin

  • Neuropeptide YY antagonists

  • Beta3-adrenergic agonists

In addition, various nutraceuticals and herbal products have shown promise. For example, an extract from the African cactus Hoodia gordonii may cause clinically significant appetite suppression.

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