It costs the global economy an estimated US $2 trillion annually and has been dubbed a modern day health epidemic, but new research has unearthed a possible cure for obesity -- and it is as plain as dirt!
Investigating how clay materials can improve drug delivery, an UniSA researcher serendipitously discovered that the clay materials she was using had a unique ability to "soak up" fat droplets in the gut. This accidental discovery could potentially be a cure for obesity.
The researcher was investigating the capacity of specifically clay materials to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs, when it was noticed that the clay particles weren't behaving as expected. Instead of breaking down to release drugs, the clay materials were attracting fat droplets and literally soaking them up.
Being overweight can cause serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, obesity is increasing with almost two in three adults, and one in four children, now overweight or obese. And if its prevalence continues, we can expect nearly half the world's population to be overweight or obese by 2030.
With few effective drugs existing to counteract obesity, many companies are investing huge amounts to discover and develop alternative treatments for obesity.
This research investigated the effects of montmorillonite, a natural clay material, purified from dirt and laponite, a synthetic clay, in rats fed a high-fat diet, comparing against placebo and a leading weight loss drug, orlistat. Monitoring over a two-week period, she found that while both the engineered clay formulations and orlistat delivered weight loss effects, the clay material outperformed the drug.
The findings offer new insights for obesity and weight-management, particularly when used in combination with the commercial drug, where there is potential for synergy.
With a finding like this, people will naturally be keen to find out when they can try it. Given that the material is generally considered safe and is widely used in food and nutraceutical products, it is feasible that human clinical trials could start reasonably soon.