07 June 2011

Asthma Drug May Be Fat-Burner Pill

A medicine used to treat asthma may also be a fat-burning drug, new research suggests.

When taken in pill form, the drug known as formoterol boosted fat burning while preserving protein metabolism, thus maintaining muscle mass, says researcher Paul Lee, MD, PhD, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and an endocrinologist at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, Australia.
"Fat burning was increased up to 25%," he says of his study results. "But the amount of protein burned is less [than without the pill].''

That could be good news for people trying to shed fat and for people who have noticed an age-related decline in muscle mass, he says. "It can promote a loss of fat while preventing the inevitable loss of muscle," Lee tells WebMD.

Lee presented his findings Saturday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Boston.

Two experts in obesity treatment who reviewed the findings say the research is promising. However, they also say the findings are preliminary and the study is small. The effects, if they bear out, might be more noticeable in the way clothes fit than in numbers on the scale, says Frank Greenway, MD, an obesity specialist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Route, La.

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