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New Study Shows Injection Of PYY Hormone Reduces Food Intake

Aired September 4, 2003 - 20:38   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back. The day may not be too far away where you could take a pill or get a shot and lose weight. A new study out of Britain suggests a hormonal injection may be a proimsing new way to battle obesity. How does it work and how effective is it? I'm joined now by the study's lead researcher, Dr. Rachael Batterham of University College in London. Welcome.
DR. RACHAEL BATTERHAM, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON: Good evening.

ZAHN: Dr. Batterham, we're going to start with a chart this evening to give our audience a better understanding of how this injection might work. This PYY hormone, the subjects ate only 1800 or so calories a day, compared to 2,000 they ate when they got the saline placebo. Tell me, in a very simple way, how this hormone makes people eat less.

BATTERHAM: It's hormone that comes from your gut that signals how much food you've eaten to parts of your brain that regulates appetite. So when we give the hormone, it makes your brain think that you've eaten a large meal and therefore you don't feel hungry. So it reduces the amount of food that people eat.

ZAHN: But the study was only conducted on 24 people. Is that really enough to tell you whether this could have any long-term widespread use?

BATTERHAM: This is a very preliminary study, and it gives us the promise of something that might be of use in the future. Obviously there's a lot more work that needs to be done. We need to do a long- term study to see whether this transient effect that we've seen is translated into weight loss when it's given for a long time.

ZAHN: Are you aware of any side effects at this point in your studies?

BATTERHAM: So far we've given it on various occasions to about 74 different subjects and nobody to date has reported any side effects. But we're giving the sort of levels that are normally seen in the bloodstream of you and I after we've seen a large meal so we wouldn't really expect to see any side effects.

ZAHN: The other thing, though, experts told us over the years, that eating fewer calories don't necessarily translate to losing weight. So when you look at this hormonal injection, what is there to suggest, in fact, that that would happen every time you're injected?

BATTERHAM: Going back to your sort of original point, it is quite difficult to lose weight because we've evolved with many systems to actaully store energy from the days when we had feast and then famine. So the body's hard wired to store fat.

So it's actually very difficult to lose weight. So at the moment we don't know whether this hormone will be useful for weight loss. We can only say that once we've given it as a single injection it reduces the food intake for 24 hours.

ZAHN: Well, the study is absolutely fascinating and it's giving people a lot of hope tonight. And we will be watching with a great deal of interest as you proceed with more studies. Dr. Batterham, thank you for joining us.

BATTERHAM: Thank you.

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