Could Czech drug help fight obesity?

Illustrative photo: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Czech scientists have revealed a substance that could help treat obesity and diabetes.

Illustrative photo: Pixabay,  CC0 Public Domain
Chemists from the Czech Academy of Sciences have discovered a substance that can contribute to the treatment of obesity and diabetes. The effect of the drug, which is now in development, has already been successfully tested on mice. If everything goes well, it could be on the market in about eight years’ time.

I asked Martin Fusek, project manager of the academy’s Centre for Development of Original Drugs, to tell me more about the discovery:

“The substance is a neuropeptide, which is normally or physiologically released in brain and which acts in the brain. It is part of the very complex control system of food intake in humans and in animals.

“This peptide has been known for decades but because of its function, which is inside the brain, it was very difficult to deliver it into the brain for the use of intervention with food intake.

“So the basic discovery, which is work of Doctor Lucie Maletínská, was to modify the peptide chemically in such a way that it actually can be applied by injection outside the brain, similarly like insulin. It then finds its way into the brain and can function there.”

How long have you been working on the research?

“The research took more than seven years, since 2010. On the other hand, Doctor Maletínská, who is heading the research, has been dealing with food intake control for more than 20 years, so the research has been going on for a long time.”

As far as I know, you have been testing the effects of the substance on mice.

“Yes, the experiments on mice and rats have been going on for three years already. They are using various models of obesity as well as diabetes type two, and in all these tested models it actually worked the way we wanted.

“The animals were losing weight and those which had high glucose levels performed much better, meaning that their glucose levels went down after the substance was applied. So we know it works on the animal models. How it will be in humans is difficult to predict.”

How long do you expect it can take before the substance can be used to treat obesity and diabetes in people?

“I would say that if everything goes well, and the chance is really about one to ten, and if it is possible to transfer it from the animal model into a clinical phase, the best scenario would be eight to ten years from now to the real use. So it is still a long way, but that’s how it works with any drug development.”