London: If you are too lazy to hit the gym but want to enjoy all the benefits of exercise, new research may brighten your prospects.
Scientists from Britain's University of Southampton have developed a molecule that mimics the effects of exercise and could potentially help obese people control glucose levels and lose weight at the same time.
"The issue is that established drugs do not successfully enable patients with Type 2 diabetes to achieve glycaemic control and some can even result in weight gain, a leading factor driving the diabetes epidemic," said study co-author Felino Cagampang, associate professor in integrative physiology at University of Southampton.
"In contrast, this new molecule seems to reduce glucose levels and at the same time decrease body weight, but only if the subject is obese," Cagampang noted.
The new molecule, called 'compound 14', inhibits the function of a cellular enzyme called ATIC, which is involved in metabolism, leading to the build-up of a molecule called ZMP in cells.
This increase in ZMP makes cells think that they have run out of energy by activating the cell's central energy sensor, known as AMPK, thereby causing cells to try and increase their energy levels by increasing glucose uptake and metabolism - changes that typically occur during exercise.
Activating AMPK with compound 14 led to a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and, at the same time, promoted weight loss in obese mice, the study found.
In the study, the molecule was given to two groups of mice who were fed either a normal diet or a high-fat diet making them obese and impairing their glucose tolerance (one of the clinical signs of pre-diabetes).
When mice with a normal diet were treated with compound 14, their blood glucose levels and weight remained normal.
However, in obese mice on the high-fat diet a single dose of compound 14 resulted in lowering their elevated blood glucose close to near normal levels.
Furthermore, a daily dose of compound 14 administered for seven days to the obese mice resulted in improved glucose tolerance and 1.5 grams weight loss (about five percent body weight).
Compound 14 did not affect the weight of those mice on the normal diet.
The scientists said they would develop the molecule further to examine the effect of long-term treatment and its mode of action in improving glucose tolerance and in reducing body weight.
If found to be safe, a drug could be developed to help those with diabetes and obesity manage their condition.
The study was published in the journal Chemistry and Biology.