Inducing Weight Loss and Increased Endurance – Revolutionary New Drug Tricks the Body Into Thinking It’s Exercising

Exercise Pill Concept

A new drug, SLU-PP-332, tested on mice by University of Florida researchers, tricks the body into thinking it is exercising, leading to weight loss, increased endurance, and boosted metabolism without affecting appetite or physical activity levels. This “exercise mimetic” could potentially treat obesity, diabetes, and muscle loss by activating certain metabolic pathways, with future plans for further refinement and human trials.

A brand-new kind of drug, tested in mice, shows promising new results that could pave the way for a new weight-loss drug that simulates exercise effects.

The new compound, developed and tested by a University of Florida professor of pharmacy and his colleagues, leads obese mice to lose weight by convincing the body’s muscles that they are exercising more than they really are, boosting the animals’ metabolism.

It also increases endurance, helping mice run nearly 50% further than they could before. All without the mice lifting a paw.

The drug belongs to a class known as “exercise mimetics,” which provides some of the benefits of exercise without increasing physical activity. The new treatment is in the early stages of development but could one day be tested in people to treat diseases like obesity, diabetes, and age-related muscle loss. The research comes as drugs like Ozempic have provided a breakthrough in reducing appetite, helping treat these metabolic diseases.

But the new drug, known as SLU-PP-332, doesn’t affect appetite or food intake. Nor does it cause mice to exercise more. Instead, the drug boosts a natural metabolic pathway that typically responds to exercise. In effect, the drug makes the body act like it is training for a marathon, leading to increased energy expenditure and faster metabolism of fat in the body.

“This compound is basically telling skeletal muscle to make the same changes you see during endurance training,” said Thomas Burris, a professor of pharmacy at UF who led the recent research into the new drug.

“When you treat mice with the drug, you can see that their whole body metabolism turns to using fatty acids, which is very similar to what people use when they are fasting or exercising,” Burris added. “And the animals start losing weight.”

With a team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University, Burris published his findings Sept. 22 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

The new drug targets a group of proteins in the body known as ERRs, which are responsible for activating some of the most important metabolic pathways in energy-gobbling tissues like muscles, the heart, and the brain. The ERRs are more active when people exercise, but they have proven difficult to activate with drugs.

In another paper published in March, the researchers reported that they had successfully designed SLU-PP-332 to boost the activity of the ERRs. They also observed that the compound allowed normal-weight mice to run for 70% longer and 45% further than mice not receiving the drug.

In their latest research, the team tested the drug on obese mice. Treating obese mice twice a day for a month caused them to gain 10 times less fat than untreated mice and lose 12% of their body weight. Yet the mice kept eating the same amount of food and didn’t exercise any more.

“They use more energy just living,” Burris said.

In other work the Burris lab is about to publish, the researchers have seen evidence that the compound can also treat heart failure in mice by strengthening the heart muscle.

So far, the drug hasn’t generated any severe side effects. The next step in developing SLU-PP-332 into a drug candidate will be to refine its structure, ideally making it available as a pill instead of an injection. Then the drug would be tested for side effects in more animal models before making the jump to human trials.

Other exercise mimetics have been tested, but none have made it to market, in part because it takes years to develop a new drug. Targeting obesity, specifically, with a drug has historically been difficult because of how complex obesity is. That was until Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, developed to treat diabetes, also caused people to lose weight. This development led to a surge of interest, research, and funding for drugs that could treat these metabolic diseases through different biological pathways.

Burris says the greatest hope for the new drug might be in maintaining muscle mass during weight loss – which often threatens lean muscle mass – or during aging, when the body naturally responds less strongly to exercise. But it will take more research to understand the drug’s full potential.

“This may be able to keep people healthier as they age,” Burris said.

Reference: “A Synthetic ERR Agonist Alleviates Metabolic Syndrome” by Cyrielle Billon, Emmalie Schoepke, Amer Avdagic, Arindam Chatterjee, Andrew A. Butler, Bahaa Elgendy, John K. Walker and Thomas P. Burris, 22 September 2023, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
DOI: 10.1124/jpet.123.001733

6 Comments on "Inducing Weight Loss and Increased Endurance – Revolutionary New Drug Tricks the Body Into Thinking It’s Exercising"

  1. A drug that tricks your body into thinking its exercising.
    Yeah this will go well.

    Beyond the unknown long term effects (or perhaps even short term) of using this drug on the body there can, and will, be major secondary side effects.

    This will foster peoples poor lifestyle choices as it will allow them to keep weight off even with poor diet and lack of exercise.
    This will in turn lead to countless other health issues.

    Stupid idea.

  2. stephen schaffer | September 26, 2023 at 9:06 am | Reply

    This is so exciting! Remember the episode of Southpark wherein Cartman addicted to videogames and snacks blows up to gargantuan proportions? Here’s the answer. Now America’s children can spend their entire lives eating and playing screen games – all parent shave to do is give them one pill in the morning.

  3. WARNING: Side effects may include fatal brain bleed, exploding muscles, imploding intestines, ADHD, manic depression, manic behavior, manic murdering, and ingrown toenails. See your doctor if symptoms persist, or you commit murder.

  4. Wow! All of these comments must be from genetically slim/fit people. They all seem to assume that all obesity is caused by laziness and gluttony. Foolish assumptions! There are many factors that can cause a person to be overweight that have nothing to do with diet and exercise choices. Many times it is a hormonal issue that goes undiagnosed properly that has nothing to do with lifestyle choices.

    • In what percentage of cases is this true? IIRC the number of such cases is either in the very low single digit percentages or less than a percent of obese people are that way for reasons of personal choice. Unfortunately the vast majority of obese people are that way because they have made the choice to have an unhealthy lifestyle (super easy to eat like crap in the US), and all this drug is going to do is reinforce extremely unhealthy lifestyles at the monetary and physical expense of the population, seems to be standard operating procedure for big pharma.

  5. Some people will benefit from this drug, namely people with lung disease that makes exercise almost impossible. It’s not just about overweight people not having to ever exercise. When you have breathing problems and you can see your muscle mass declining it’s depressing, especially if you were a very physical person your entire life.
    Let’s not assume it’s a “cheat pill”, I would love to see this drug available in the near future. Unfortunately I like many others will not be privy to its benefits because Big Pharm. will surely make it well out of the reach of non millionaires!

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.