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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pills for Fat People

It's been a while since the leaders have offered up an anti-obesity pill. The FDA caught a little flack for the Fen Phen fiasco. The latest prescription diet pill, Vivus' Qsymia, came out recently but has seen slow sales. Maybe the diet and exercise secret has been let out. The real reason for this post however is something I came across while looking into the Vivus pill. I thought maybe Qsymia was PYY. Who would be so foolish as to try and make PYY into a diet pill and would the FDA approve such a thing. It turns out that leaders at the Novo Nordisk Cargo Cult put together a PYY program in 2011.

We first brought up the PYY story in 2006 when the now defunct Nastech crashed and burned in their attempt to make a drug out of the hormone PYY. In this post I pointed out the absurdity of this biotech company attempting to hammer this square peg through a round hole. Merck entered into a collaboration with Nastech but found no reason to continue pumping money into the project.

Novo Nordisk is of course an important and useful company, not a simple Cargo Cult. They have the experience and expertise to provide useful insulin products. They have plenty to teach us here in the Cargo Cults. At some point however, all companies run into a Cargo Cult area. They have to do research and someone will make the decision that will set newly employed scientific team on a path of no return. These new scientists will have only one choice, make PYY a drug or find a new job.

The question for the Cargo Cult Scientist is whether or not PYY is involved in satiety. Many scientist don't believe the research. As I pointed out long ago, not only does PYY fail to impress in the nasal spray form, it might just be another N-Ray in the life sciences.
Science 9 July 2004:Vol. 305. no. 5681, pp. 158 - 159DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5681.158

OBESITY RESEARCH:Labs Fail to Reproduce Protein's Appetite-Suppressing Effects

by Trisha Gura

"In an unusual joint letter in Nature this week, more than 40 scientists announced that they cannot reproduce the central findings of a 2002 Nature paper that showed that a molecule called peptide YY3-36, when injected into rodents, dampens appetite for 12 hours or more."
Once again we have a candidate for the Reproducibility Initiave! What would they do differently than Nastech, Merck, Novo, Dr. Bloom or any of the 40 scientists in the Nature letter lised above? Who could help resolve this issue? Let Novo take a stab at this molecule. But what about basic research? Is PYY what we think it is? Can anyone help us place bets on Novos chances?


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