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Kealan Connors has always wanted to help people in any way, shape, or form. From a young age, he has always been engaged within his community, from building walking/biking trails in his local parks to helping his friends. This desire led him to pursue a degree in communications from Southern Oregon University. Currently, at 22, he resides in Grants Pass, Oregon. He also holds an Associate's degree in Arts from Rogue Community College. He wants to work in a career where people are the focus, whether in health care, politics, or a nonprofit organization. His favorite hobbies are going on long walks with his yellow lab, Taffy, mountain biking, and generally, he loves to be outside. Right now, he is starting a new hobby in cooking.


Obesity and diabetes are severe health crises that have been in the minds for decades. Bariatric surgery that can include gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and the gastric band is a viable treatment option. They can often result in tremendous weight loss and can go as far as causing the remission of diabetes. However, these procedures have possible side effects and are unsuitable for everyone. The cost can also play a role in getting and not getting the treatment. Researchers have made a new form of treatment that might be the next big thing. This treatment could be to address metabolic issues through medication that emulates the long-term gains of surgery.


Gut Peptides: The new future?

After coming out of gastric bypass surgery, some patients experience certain health benefits associated with changes in hormone secretion by the gut. Hormones that are included, which can include glucagon-like peptide and peptide YY, signal fullness, reduce appetite, and control blood sugar levels. Researchers have created many drugs intended to replicate these effects by targeting GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas and brain. These drugs have proven without a doubt that they reduce weight as well as treat type 2 diabetes. The only downside is that most people who have taken these drugs stop within their first year because they cannot handle the side effects.


What is a better option?

A team led by Syracuse University researchers in NY has invented a new peptide to address this need. They showed their research at the ACS (American Chemical Society) meeting on March 26-30. The researchers suggested that a compound that mimics the long-term benefits of gastric bypass surgery could be an alternative solution to help patients with metabolic problems. Researchers have found different approaches to address the side effects of drugs that aim at only one hormone receptor in the gut. The method is to design treatments that interact with multiple types of receptors. In older studies, the team created a peptide called GEP44, which activates two receptors for peptide YY and one receptor for glucagon-like peptide-1.


These researchers tested this compound on rats with obesity, and they found that the rats that got GEP44 ate up to 80% less than they typically would, and they lost an average of 12% of their weight within 16 days. The study found that rats given GEP44 lost more weight than those given the existing drug liraglutide. GEP44 did not cause nausea or vomiting, unlike liraglutide, when given to rats and shrews. The thought as to why researchers believe that GEP44 activates multiple receptors, which could prevent the intracellular signaling pathway that causes symptoms such as vomiting and nausea.


What does this mean for patients?

Dr. Becca Krukowski professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia, noted that “while these are early findings in lab animals, this research may lead to new medications that are safe and effective for patients over time.” “But first, this medication would need to proceed through the intentional slow and careful multi-stage and multi-year testing process that would be required before being broadly prescribed,” she cautioned.


Nevertheless, Krukowski added, “The potential lack of weight regain after discontinuing treatment would be particularly exciting if this treatment characteristic were confirmed in testing with humans.”


Many positives can come from these experimental drugs, such as taking smaller doses of drugs that can provide desired outcomes while reducing side effects. Ultimately, more research must be done, though this is a good shot at being the cure for the future of obesity and diabetes.

May 2023 page 7

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