Mouse Study Points to Potential Weight-Loss Agent

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THURSDAY, March 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A molecule found in certain tree leaves helped female mice avoid weight gain, a new study claims.

The molecule is found in the leaves of several types of trees in Central and South America. It binds to a receptor in muscle cells and speeds up energy metabolism in female mice. This allowed the female mice to eat high-fat foods without gaining weight or accumulating fat, researchers found.

However, it's important to note that findings from animal studies don't always translate to humans.

Male mice didn't get the same benefit from the molecule that females did, but it's not clear why. Sex-specific hormones may be a factor, the researchers suggested.

The different responses between female and male mice highlight the need to include both sexes when developing drugs for obesity and other conditions, the researchers said.

The findings were published online March 5 in the journal Chemistry & Biology.

The current research only included mice, but "an equivalent diet pill in humans would allow people to maintain a healthy weight, despite a high-fat diet," senior study author Keqiang Ye, from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, suggested in a journal news release.

"The pill would burn calories without affecting appetite," Ye added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent weight gain.