A commonly prescribed migraine medication, called Triptan, has shown positive signs for treating obesity, according to a new study.
The experimental study found that mice who were given the drug daily consumed less food and lost more weight over the course of a month than mice not given the drug.
“We’ve shown that there is real potential to repurpose these drugs, which are already known to be safe, for appetite suppression and weight loss,” said study leader Chen Liu, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern.
Researchers tested six prescription triptans over a seven-week period on obese mice that were being fed a high-fat diet. Mice that were fed two triptans ate roughly the same amount as before. But mice who were given the other four triptans ate less.
Mice given frovatriptan lost an average of 3.6 percent of their body weight after 24 days, while mice not given triptan gained 5.1 percent of their body weight on average.
“We found that these drugs, and one in particular, can lower body weight and improve glucose metabolism in less than a month, which is pretty impressive,” Liu said.
Scientists have long determined that the chemical messenger serotonin affects appetite. But because there are 15 serotonin receptors, scientists have yet to determine the role of each receptor.
Further, earlier drugs treating weight gain, such as fen-phen and lorcaserin, were taken off the market due to their side effects. But for the study, researchers engineered mice to lack Htr1b or Htr2c, the serotonin receptor targeted by fen-phen and lorcaserin.
They noted that this led them to conclude triptan worked by targeting the serotonin 1B receptor.
“This finding could be important for drug development,” Liu continued. “We not only shed light on the potential to repurpose existing triptans but also brought attention to Htr1b as a candidate to treat obesity and regulate food intake.”
The World Obesity Atlas, released in March, projected one billion people across the globe will be living with obesity by 2030.