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Old Canker Sore Drug Effective for Weight Loss, Diabetes

Update Date: Feb 11, 2013 03:25 AM EST

An old drug used to treat canker sores and asthma can help with weight loss and diabetes type-2, according to a new study.

The drug - amlexanox - is an off-patent drug and researchers from University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute have found that it is effective is reversing obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease in mice models.

The drug, researchers say, works by inhibiting the genes IKKE and TBK1, allowing the body to spend more energy.

Researchers found that the drug was effective in reducing weight and reversing certain health complications in mice that were either genetically modified to gain weight or were given a high-calorie diet.

"One of the reasons that diets are so ineffective in producing weight loss for some people is that their bodies adjust to the reduced calories by also reducing their metabolism, so that they are 'defending' their body weight. Amlexanox seems to tweak the metabolic response to excessive calorie storage in mice," Alan Saltiel, the Mary Sue Coleman director of the Life Sciences Institute, said in a news release from the University of Michigan.

Saltiel lab in 2009 had published a study in the journal Cell on genes IKKE and TBK1, in which researchers showed that IKKE and TBK1 had a significant impact on the amount of energy used by the body.

Although the drug is effective in getting the mice's metabolic system running hard, researchers aren't sure if the drug will be effective in promoting weight loss in humans.

The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.                         

More than a third of the adult population is obese, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has tripled from 5.6 million in 1980 to 26.9 million in 2010.

Side-effects of the drug amlexanox are diarrhea, nausea and slight pain, according to Medline Plus. The drug is used in the U.S. to treat ulcers in the mouth (canker sores). 

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