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Search for new therapeutic agents against complicated obesity by reprofiling existing drugs

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Can anti-obesity drugs finally win the safety battle?

Obesity is a serious and rapidly growing health problem, and the leading cause of diabetes. To date, medication targeting obesity has battled to meet stringent safety requirements.

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Anti-obesity drugs must also prove effective in decreasing abdominal fat in order to be approved. Over the last few years, only Rimonabant has won approval for its potential to fight complicated obesity. However, it is appropriate for only a restricted set of patients. The 'Search for new therapeutic agents against complicated obesity by reprofiling existing drugs' (Reprobesity) project is employing a novel approach to overcome such barriers to the treatment of obesity. As such, the project is focused on clinical phenotyping of obese patients, discovering biomarkers and identifying new indications of existing drugs with potential for anti-obesity efficacy. In the first 18 months, Reprobesity has directly targeted abdominal fat cells in ex vivo samples of human adipose tissue to develop a novel and effective technique for re-profiling existing drugs. In efforts to identify subsets of responsive patients with good safety profiles, a new technique called Combinatoriall cytomic biomarkers (CCB) has been developed. This identifies how obesity together with environmental factors (such as carbohydrate consumption) contributes to an abnormal cellular response, which may be implicated in the onset of diabetes. Researchers have also been working to identify what takes place on biochemical signalling pathways. This information will also prove valuable in future development of new therapeutic alternatives. Project partners have initiated the patenting and development of new chemical entities interacting with these targets. The Reprobesity team expects that on completion of the project, the high efficiency of re-profiling techniques and exploration of pharmacological targets will result in several safe anti-obesity drug candidates ready for use in clinical trials.

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