A new study has linked a drug used to treat alcoholism to rapid weight loss and protective effects in obese mice, suggesting a potential new treatment for obesity. The study, from the National Institutes of Health’s Aging Institute, found that mice given the drug disulfiram lost much more weight than those who were on a diet.
According to the National Institutes of Health, disulfuren is a drug used to treat chronic alcoholism for more than 50 years. The agency’s researchers found that it may also prevent metabolic damage associated with obesity and help subjects regain healthy weight. The study involved male and female mice; it was described as “basic research.”
Because of its reputation in rats treating type 2 diabetes, researchers are interested in studying its potential use in metabolic disorders and obesity. The study involved four groups of experimental mice, one of whom was fed a high-fat diet, the other fed a high-fat diet and a low-dose dose of bisulfur, the other with a high-fat diet and a high-dose dose of bisulfur, and one group was fed a standard diet over a 12-week period.
The results were described as “dramatic”. The study found that, despite being fed a high-fat diet, overweight mice in the bi-sulfurgroup suffered reduced metabolic damage and weight. Mice given higher doses of bi-sulfur lost up to 40 percent of their body weight within four weeks, and mice in both drug groups also had improved blood sugar compared to mice on a standard diet.
Nia scientist Dr. Michel Bernier explains.
When we first chose this path, we didn’t know what would happen, but once we started to see the data show that the mice had dropped dramatically and were thinner, we couldn’t believe our eyes.
The study found that these benefits were most likely directly caused by the drug, rather than the behavior changes caused by the drug. As part of the study, the researchers did not ask the mice to exercise, nor did they see an increase in their activity during the study period. Similarly, the study did not notice any harm caused by the use of disulfur. Of course, it is important to remember that these results involve mice and are not necessarily effective in humans.