Formoterol, the drug which is used to treat asthma and lung diseases, holds great promise in fighting obesity, according to a research.
Researchers at Melbourne's Garvan Institute of Medical Research have found that the drug increases metabolism and fat burning in adults who are at rest.
"Research in animals has shown that formoterol can stimulate the growth of muscle and the burning of fat," the Daily Telegraph quoted Paul Lee, the study's lead author, as saying.
"This is the first study demonstrating the beneficial metabolic effects in humans. Energy rate was increased by more than 10 per cent and fat burning was increased by close to 25 per cent," he said.
Theoretically, that means an average 70kg man could burn an extra 200 calories a day, Lee said.
Other medications that increase metabolism often increase the heart rate, which can be dangerous. But the asthma drug, which has been in use for 10 years, had no effect on the hearts of the eight men in the study.
"This is an important discovery as it suggests that formoterol may be used to prevent obesity and muscle loss in humans," said Lee.
The study was presented at a medical conference in Boston, USA.