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Pharmaceuticals

Asthma Drug Slims Fat Mice

Kinase inhibitor reduces inflammation associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
February 18, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 7

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Credit: Shannon Reilly
These mice were fed high-fat diets, but the mouse on the left returned to a normal weight after being treated with amlexanox.
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Credit: Shannon Reilly
These mice were fed high-fat diets, but the mouse on the left returned to a normal weight after being treated with amlexanox.

Amlexanox, a drug long used to treat asthma and mouth sores in humans, may also be a promising treatment for type 2 diabetes and obesity, a new mouse study shows (Nat. Med., DOI: 10.1038/nm.3082). Because the drug is already FDA approved and has a high safety profile, it could be tested for this new human use relatively easily, say the study’s authors, Alan R. Saltiel at the University of Michigan and colleagues. The group showed that in mice, amlexanox inhibits the kinases IKK-ε and TBK1, which are produced in the liver and fat in response to chronic inflammation caused by a high-fat diet. Though the mechanism of inflammation remains mysterious, researchers have amassed considerable evidence that the condition is associated with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Saltiel’s group screened a library of 150,000 small molecules for promising IKK-ε inhibitors and discovered that amlexanox fit the bill. They found that mice on a high-fat diet that are treated from the start with amlexanox did not become obese, while their untreated counterparts did. When already obese mice were treated with the drug, the mice returned to normal weight and their insulin resistivity and fatty liver disease declined.

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