Can a piece of gum help you lose weight?
An oral spray or piece of chewing gum that contains a compound that naturally occurs in the body may be all it takes to curb appetite and spark weight loss.
The chemical, called peptide YY, is released after eating, says Sergei Zolotukhin, associate professor of cellular and molecular therapy at the University of Florida.
“When mice were treated with a solution of this peptide using a simple spray, with one puff they will consume less food and they will start losing weight,” he says.
“The implications are very simple: if you put peptide YY in a spray or gum and you take it half an hour before dinner, you will feel full faster and consume less food. It could be just a 5 or 10 percent difference, but it is enough to stimulate weight loss.”
The findings are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
No more vomiting
Peptide YY is already known for its fullness-inducing properties in the body, but researchers had stopped studying it for human use after clinical trials revealed a major negative side effect: it caused vomiting.
At the time, scientists were injecting it directly into the blood stream. Because peptide YY helps stop the body from overeating, having too much in the blood stream signals the body that it has taken in too much food, spurring the urge to vomit.
When sprayed on the tongue, however, the peptide acts on the saliva and enters the body through a different pathway, stimulating the brain’s reward center, Zolotukhin says.
The researchers began studying peptide YY several years ago, initially looking for a way to deliver the peptide using gene therapy. They successfully prompted weight loss in rodents using gene therapy, but noticed there was no difference in the amount of the peptide that showed up in the bloodstream. In trying to uncover how the rodents were losing weight, the researchers discovered that the peptide was also found in saliva.
Although the gene therapy worked, they wanted to find an easier way to deliver the peptide to patients. Initial tests of the oral spray proved successful, but the team needed to be sure that the spray would not stimulate the same sickness as injection.
“Comparing systemic peptide YY versus salivary PYY, what we have found is that although salivary PYY induces similar neuronal pathways to induce fullness, at the same time, it does not induce the neuronal pathways that cause visceral sickness,” Zolotukhin says.
Source: University of Florida