Seaweed key to new weight loss drug
A new pill, made from a seaweed plant extract, that fools the stomach into thinking it is full could be the latest diet drug to tackle obesity.
The drug, known as Appesat, works by stretching the stomach wall, in turn stimulating receptors that signal to the brain that the stomach is full. The effects of the drug are similar to those of gastric balloons, surgically inserted to create the same effect.
Already approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, the new pill is simply swallowed with water half an hour before meals and is washed through the body after digestion and flushed out.
The special seaweed ingredient is harvested on the French Atlantic coast and works inside the body by swelling to several times its normal size.
Clinical trials on the new drug have proved a success with weight loss in volunteers at an average of around one and a half stone across a three-month stint.
Dr Jason Halford, an appetite and obesity expert at Liverpool University explained that the fibrous nature of seaweed is similar to that of grains and nuts, curbing appetite.
‘It could work because we know fibrous foods make you feel full. But like many existing weight control products, it needs more data to demonstrate exactly how it works and how effective it is,’ said Halford.
‘As it only sits in the gut and does not enter the bloodstream, there should be hardly any side-effects.
If you want to sample Appesat, capsules will be available over the counter in the UK from April.