A team of scientists is trying to develop a chewing gum that may assist individuals in losing weight. In a groundbreaking new study, the team led by Syracuse University chemist Robert Doyle demonstrated, for the first time, that a critical hormone that helps people feel “full” after eating can be
delivered into the bloodstream orally.
The hormone, called human PYY, is part of a chemical system that regulates appetite and energy. When people eat or exercise, PYY is released into the bloodstream.
Chewing gumThe amount of PYY that is released increases with the number of calories that are consumed.
Past studies have shown that people who are obese have lower concentrations of PYY in their bloodstream both when fasting and after eating than their non-obese counterparts.
“PYY is an appetite-suppressing hormone. But, when taken orally, the hormone is destroyed in the stomach and that which isn’t destroyed has difficulty crossing into the bloodstream through the intestines,” Doyle explained.
What’s needed is a way to disguise the PYY so that it can travel through the digestive system relatively unharmed. Several years ago, Doyle developed a way to use vitamin B12 as a vehicle for the oral delivery of the hormone insulin.
B12 is able to pass through the digestive system with relative ease and carry with it insulin, or other substances, into the bloodstream.
Similarly, his research team attached the PYY hormone to his patent-pending vitamin B12 system.
“Phase one of this study was to show that we could deliver a clinically relevant amount of PYY into the bloodstream. We did that, and we are very excited by the results,” Doyle said.
The next step involves finding ways to insert the B12-PYY system into such things as chewing gum or an oral tablet to create a nutritional supplement to assist individuals in losing weight in much the same way as nicotine-laced gum is used to help people stop smoking.
“If we are successful, PYY-laced gum would be a natural way to help people lose weight,” he stated.
“They could eat a balanced meal, then chew a stick of gum. The PYY supplement would begin to kick in about three to four hours later, decreasing their appetite as they approach their next meal,” Doyle added.
The study was published online Nov. 4, 2011 in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and is forthcoming in print.