Elderly people may not always have the fitness to exercise so as to lose weight. Researchers have now discovered that an existing drug, rapamycin, may help reduce food consumption and body weight. Rapamycin is a pharmaceutical used to coat coronary stents and prevent transplant rejection. Mice studies revealed that the drug reduces obesity and preserves lean body mass when given intermittently.
Study co-lead author Christy Carter, assistant professor at University of Florida College of Medicine, said, "We need to be able to intervene with treatments for older adults. They're going to have health care issues, and not everyone can get up and exercise. So if you can give them a jump-start or combine rapamycin with other therapies, you could have better health outcomes."
Using 25-month-old rats, which are about equivalent to 65-year-old people, the researchers found that body weight dropped by approximately 13% after the rats were treated with rapamycin. The drug targets how the body makes leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that affects the hunger and metabolism. The study said, "Rapamycin's ability to stabilize the rats' leptin level made them lighter."
The researchers found that it worked so well that the older rats ultimately developed a lean-to-fat ratio similar to that of their younger counterparts. In this case, researchers felt like they restored the body composition to that of a young animal.
In another study, researchers found that small, intermittent amounts of rapamycin produced the desired slimming effect in both young and old rats. Lead authors Philip Scarpace, professor at University of Florida College of Medicine, said, "One point that is common is that it seems to work better in animals, old or young, that have more fat."
Both the rapamycin-related studies were published in the Journals of Gerontology