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Pill to beat obesity

Scientists seek volunteers to trial drug to combat obesity

Researchers believe the capsule could reduce the need for bariatric surgery and help solve the obesity crisis

Researchers are looking for volunteers to trial a revolutionary new drug to combat obesity. The capsule has been laboratory-tested on human tissue for more than four years by scientists at Queen Mary University of London, UK, in a project part-funded by the charity Bowel & Cancer Research. The capsule, packed with a mix of natural oils, is believed to ‘trick’ the gut into thinking it’s full and suppresses appetite. Researchers believe it could reduce the need for bariatric surgery and help solve the obesity crisis.  

The researchers are seeking 40 healthy volunteers spend 18 months helping to establish the correct dosage levels and manage possible side-effects. The study, led by Professor Ashley Blackshaw and Dr Madusha Peiris at Queen Mary’s Wingate Institute envision the first phase with 20 volunteers will confirm whether the capsule reduces the appetite, and research so far gives a very strong indication that it will. If the first phase is successful, a second group of 20 volunteers will spend a further six months trialling the capsule. They will have obesity, morbidly obesity or on the waiting list for a gastric bypass surgery. The volunteers, aged 18-75, must be overweight but not necessarily have obesity and must not have had bowel surgery or a bowel disorder or be taking medication for Type 2 diabetes.

“All our volunteers have to do is swallow capsules before every meal when the body is ready to release lots of hormones, such as insulin,” explained Professor Ashley Blackshaw. “If the trials work, this could be a major weapon in tackling the obesity crisis and Type 2 diabetes. It could also cut the need for gastric bypass surgery which costs the NHS millions every year.”

The capsule works by sending special food supplements directly to the lower bowel, bypassing the small intestine. That causes the release of hormones which suppress appetite and help with the release of insulin.

 “Getting the body to release hormones that make you feel full will reduce appetite and reduce food intake. It works in the same way as gastric bypass surgery but without the irreversible, expensive surgery which is often only available to obese patients,” explained Madusha Peiris. “The capsule is just like swallowing a fish oil capsule. It’s a totally novel idea and we’re very excited to be proceeding to human trial. We are hopeful that the treatment will be widely available in the next five years.”

The human trials are being funded through the charity Bowel & Cancer Research with the support of the JP Moulton Charitable Foundation.

“Being overweight is now recognised as a major risk factor for bowel cancer,” added Deborah Gilbert, Chief Executive of Bowel & Cancer Research. “We are very grateful to the trustees of the JP Moulton Charitable Foundation whose support is making this research possible.”

If you know your height and weight and/or BMI this would be useful. The team is particularly keen to recruit volunteers in the South East of England as the trial is being conducted from Queen Mary University of London. Anyone wishing to be involved can email: trials@bowelcancerresearch.org before 1st March 2019, with their name, age and contact details. 

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