Diet and Exercise in a Pill: Experimental Anti-Obesity Drug Could "Trick" the Body

By Eliza Strickland | November 5, 2008 11:40 am

red wine 2A drug that mimics the effects of a compound found in red wine has been shown to prevent obesity and diabetes in mice that were fed a high-calorie diet and prevented from exercising, taking another step towards the target of a anti-obesity pill. The natural compound found in grapes and red wine, called resveratrol, is believed to have numerous health benefits related to longevity, heart health, and metabolism. But tests in mice suggested gallons of wine would be necessary for humans to stand a chance of getting the same benefits. The scientists turned their attention to creating a more potent drug [BBC News].

The new experimental drug, called SRT1720, was developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Researchers explain that mice fed a high-fat diet were tricked into switching their metabolisms to a fat-burning mode that normally takes over when energy levels are low…. “We are activating the same enzymes that are activated when people go to the gym,” said Peter Elliott, a vice president at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, the Glaxo unit that developed the drug. “That is why we believe the profile for this drug is very safe” [Reuters].

In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism [subscription required], researchers fed mice a high-fat, high-calorie diet for 10 weeks and prevented them from exercising regularly, while also giving some of the mice the SRT1720 drug. At the end of the 10 weeks, the mice on the experimental regimen were found to have more endurance in treadmill-running, and the drug also protected the animals from the negative effects of high-calorie diets: metabolic disorders, obesity-related diseases, and insulin resistance. It even improved the mice’s cholesterol…. It’s as if the couch-potato mice underwent a strict diet and exercise regime [Technology Review].

The drug works by activating one of several enzymes that regulate the function of mitochondria — cellular power generators that convert glucose into chemical energy. The wearing down of these generators has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancer and other age-related afflictions [Wired News]. The next step for the researchers is to test SRT1720 for safety in primates and humans; the drug could eventually be approved for treating diabetes, obesity, and other disorders.

Related Content:
80beats: The Young at Heart Drink Red Wine
DISCOVER: Is Wine What Flows Through the Fountain of Youth?

Image: flickr / hlkljgk

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Wyatt

    You can buy pure resveratrol Now. You do not have to wait 5 years. You do not have to drink gallons of red wine. Resveratrol has been purified and put into pill form Without the alcohol. Check out for some good insights. W

  • Dr. Charles Martin

    Let’s hope the clinical trials prove its protective effects against insulin resistance. Diabetes is epidemic, and its complications – like gum disease – cause or contribute to higher risks of potentially life-threatening catastrophic health events. Gum disease interacts with diabetes in ways that worsen both conditions, interfering with management of elevated blood sugar. We write about this extensively at

    – Charles Martin, DDS
    Founder, Dentistry For Diabetics

  • Eliza Strickland

    A caution to readers:

    Be aware that the FDA has NOT approved any drug containing resveratrol for human use. A number of companies are marketing nutritional supplements containing the compound, but consumers should be wary. Such supplements have not yet been proven to be beneficial.

    Here’s an article on the resveratrol-craze:

  • Dr Richard Sinclare

    The concentrate referred to in this article is a compound contained in red wine called resveratrol (Transmax) and produced by biotivia in the US and the UK. The molecule has been shown in Harvard University peer reviewed studies by Dr. Sinclair to not only cause substantial weight loss but to also prevent diabetes in obese mammals and to both prevent the onset of Diabetes in obese mammals and to safely reduce blood sugar. In studies of biotivia transmax and bioforte, a concentrated resveratrol supplement used by reseachers, this compound has also exhibited important neuroprotective effects against Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease. Resveratrol works by activating the human SIRT-1 anti-aging genes. In a journal Nature study it was found to increase life span of mice by 31% and prevent the usual diseases of aging and obesity including Diabetes, stroked and tumors.

  • Andre Levinson

    Since the Harvard resveratrol study by Dr. Sinclair was published in the journal Nature a flood of dubious companies have sprung up selling resveratrol. Many have no scientist, no labs, no quality control and no experience. One guy is making it in his house in Florida. Consumer Lab, an independent testing authority, evaluated the major brands and found many lacking in content and quality. The highest potency products that passed their evaluation were Biotivia, Transmax and Bioforte. A product by Life Extension Co. failed badly with only 26% of the claimed resveratrol. Another brand, Revatrol, had virtually no trans-resveratrol in its supplement. The ConsumerLab test results are available on their web site.

  • Jamie Diamond

    Resveratrol can help you to lead a long and healthy life so says many
    doctors. Red wine alone does not supply enough resveratrol to achieve the
    full range of benefits because one glass of red wine has only about
    1mg of resveratrol and you need about 250mg/day. You need to take
    high potency resveratrol supplements to achieve the results documented
    in scientific studies.Resveratrol Supplements can also help you control
    your weight naturally by increasing energy, reducing cravings, and limiting
    your appetite.According to Wikipedia, Consumer Lab, an independent dietary
    supplement and over the counter products evaluation organization,
    published a report on 13 November 2007 on the popular resveratrol
    supplements. The organization reported that there exists a wide range
    in quality, dose, and price among the 13 resveratrol products
    evaluated. The actual amount of resveratrol contained in the
    different brands range from 2.2mg for Revatrol, which claimed to have
    400mg of “Red Wine Grape Complex”, to 500mg for Transmax,
    which is consistent with the amount claimed on the product’s label.
    Prices per 100mg of resveratrol ranged from less than $.30 for
    products made by, jarrow, and country life, to a high of
    $45.27 for the Revatrol brand.

  • Nick

    Or you can eat peanuts, which are the natural source with the highest concentration of resveratrol – 79mg/Oz.

  • dermacai

    Interesting write-up. I really enjoyed reading it. Can I get your e-mail address, that way I can tell you a couple things?

  • Giggs

    good good his post deserves nothing!

  • Type 2 diabetes

    Hello. I like your site very much. Good information to be found here. Hope your other visitors enjoy it as I do. We have diabetes in our family and I try to learn more about it. Keep up the good work.

  • Benny

    Hmm so interesting research is done here. But what are the side effects? And another thing that I wonder is why is it that when some type of drug that is beneficialy takes so long to make it to the market.

  • Sandra @ RX Confidential

    I’m not a mouse and wether this works ‘as advertised’ or not in humans is yet to be proven. Granted there are some indications that this can have very positive effects on several conditions but why is it that so many are always looking for the quick fix in a pill instead of doing necessary life style changes? No pill will ever be equal to actually exercising!

    Check Wikipedia for some insight:

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  • Michele Rodiquez

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