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A 'Flab Jab'? Promising Studies Could Lead to Obesity Vaccine

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"A 10% drop in body weight"

A South Dakota-based company called Braasch Biotech is reportedly trying to develop a "cure" for obesity unlike any on the market today.  Rather than a lifetime of dieting or, for some, painful surgeries, the company is exploring the possibility of treating obesity with an injection, like it's chicken pox or the flu.

Colloquially referred to as the "flab jab," the injection has shown promising results in preliminary studies with mice and, according to the Telegraph, in unpublished studies with pigs.

Reportedly working by stimulating the immune system to attack a hormone that promotes slow metabolism and weight gain, a group of obese mice that were fed a high-fat diet experienced a 10% drop in body weight just four days after receiving the shot.  Moreover, according to reports, the injection did not affect normal levels of growth hormones in the mice.

Two different versions of the vaccine produced similar slim-downs, and a separate group of untreated mice did not see a significant change in weight.

Lead researcher Dr. Keith Haffer explained: "Although further studies are necessary to discover the long term implications of these vaccines, treatment of human obesity with vaccination could provide physicians with a drug and surgical-free option against the weight epidemic."

Britain's National Health Service, always the bearer of good news, issued a report Monday debunking any "hope" (their word) for an obesity vaccine.

Warning that the study "was not supported by public funds or other grants" and that there might be "financial benefit" involved for the company, the NHS details three problems with the study:

  • Mice who were given the vaccines experienced an initial drastic loss of weight but then continued to gain weight over the course of six weeks - just not as quickly as the mice in the control group.
  • The weight loss after the first dose of vaccine was so drastic that the dose used in the second injection in the study was reduced out of concern for the mice’s health
  • If the volume of vaccine given to the mice was scaled up it would be equivalent to over a [liter] for an average sized adult – a much greater volume than is usually used in a vaccination

While you may have no interest in the vaccine personally, the different approaches to what nearly everyone has declared an "epidemic" are noteworthy.

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