Fexaramine – the imaginary meal pill that can also lower cholesterol

Fexaramine is a new diet pill presently being developed at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, USA. Founded in 1960 by the medical researcher Jonas Salk, the institute is a non-profit organisation that conducts scientific research and tries to find ways to aid humanity.

Ongoing research topics include cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and AIDS. Bearing in mind the growing prevalence of obesity, and the associated risks to the health, it is probably not that surprising the Salk Institute is devoting some of its resources to developing a pill that may help to alleviate the problem.

Fexaramine how it is supposed to work

How Fexaramine Works

Fexaramine is a drug that appears to have the ability to trick the body into initiating a response to a large meal even though no food has been consumed, a fact that has caused Fexaramine to often be referred to as “The Imaginary Meal”.

The human body is an incredibly complex biological machine and, like a modern day computer, it has numerous built-in programs that govern the way it works. One such program kicks in when the body detects a large amount of food in the stomach. All that food means that extra nutrients are on the way, including calories. In expectation of this the body responds by activating the bile receptor farnesoid X (FXR), which then triggers several changes within the body.

Extra blood is diverted to the digestive organs, so that the increased blood flow can absorb the extra calories as they are processed, and the fat burning process is initiated. Studies show Fexaramine can mislead the body into attaining this state even though no calories have been supplied and without causing a change in the appetite.

Scientific Studies

diet drugInitial interest in Fexaramine as a weight loss aid can be traced back to 2003, when scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute released some of their research data in a paper that highlighted the possible benefits Fexaramine may provide.

Since that time some pharmaceutical companies have created drugs that aim to trick the body into reacting to a phantom meal, but side effects have always been an issue. The scientists at Salk believe such side effects are caused because the drugs trigger the process much too soon, causing a negative reaction in some of the body’s organs. With this theory as their driving force, Salk scientists have spent 20 years developing and refining their pill.

So far Salk has only tested Fexaramine on obese mice, but the results were good and further tests, including tests on humans, are planned before the drug is released.

The study involving mice was conducted over a five week period and suggests the drug could be an extremely effective weight loss aid.

  • Further weight gain was prevented
  • Body fat was reduced
  • Blood sugar levels were reduced
  • Cholesterol levels were lowered
  • Body temperature increased (suggesting faster metabolism)

Fexaramine is not yet ready for release so there is no information available about the probable dosage.

Potential for Side Effects

As with any new drug, it is hard to speculate on what the range and severity of side effects is likely to be, but the researchers at Salk are confident Fexaramine will be able to provide weight loss without side effects, and the information available to date suggests the pills will probably live up to this expectation. Testing is ongoing though, and the scientists at Salk appear to be very thorough, so Fexaramine is unlikely to be rushed to market before they are completely happy the pills work in the desired way.

Key Points

  • Fexaramine is a weight loss drug being developed by the Salk Institute
  • The Salk Institute is a non-profit organisation that aims to benefit humanity
  • Fexaramine is designed to trick the body into thinking a large meal has been eaten
  • By tricking the body, Fexaramine triggers the release of the bile receptor farnesoid X
  • Farnesoid X causes several beneficial changes in body function
  • Tests show Fexaramine can assist weight loss, lower cholesterol, and boost the metabolism
  • Testing is ongoing
  • Side effects are unlikely
  • Fexaramine is not yet available
  • It is not known when the drug is likely to be brought to market

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