A New and Improved Diet Pill?

The geeks in the lab coats think that they have discovered the Holy Grail of pharmaceuticals:

A Diet Pill that actually works.

Well, sort of.

In a new study, published in the August 31 online edition of Nature Medicine, scientists from the Salk Institute of Biological Studies claim to have identified a genetic master switch for obesity.

This switch, known as TORC1, is designed to turn on a variety of genes in the body.

One of those genes (CARTCocaine and Amphetamine Regulated Transcript) is designed to shut down our appetite for food.

The researchers believe that subtle mutations in TORC1 may result in an inherited risk factor for obesity.

They also believe that “tweaking mutated and inefficient TORC genes may be possible through drug therapy”. “TORC1 is regulated by phosphate handling enzymes called kinases, and kinases often make for very good drug targets”.

So What Does This Mean?

  • A defective TORC1 gene seems to have a role in determining human obesity.
  • Researchers have no idea how prevalent defective TORC1 genes are in the human population.
  • A lot of research needs to be done to determine the prevalence of TORC1 mutation in the human population.
  • If it is determined that TORC1 plays a significant role in human obesity, research into a cure will begin.
  • Initial research will be performed on mice.
  • IF, IF, IF…

In the Meantime…

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Salk Institute. “New Master Switch Found In Brain Regulates Appetite And Reproduction.” ScienceDaily 2 September 2008. 2 September 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/08/080831151343.htm>.


  1. Sad but true.

    As soon as obesity is labeled a ‘disease’, a certain percentage of the overweight population uses the label as an excuse to give up all responsibility.

    I think we both know a few members of that group.

    And I would also argue that this mentality doesn’t apply only to the obese. Lots of people want someone else to look after them.

    We all can use a hand from time to time. Shit happens.

    But when more and more people come to expect or demand that help as their “right”; that should be a signal that things are going wrong.

    Very wrong

  2. Every other week, a new miracle obesity pill is dropped out of labs now. Sounds suspicious to me.
    We just don’t know if they properly work and what the unexpected effects will be.
    I’m anxious to hear about the first lawsuits and the subsequent answers from labs: “customers should be conscious our products can only work efficiently if the subjects follow a strict and healthy life…”

  3. I saw a report that claims by 2025 — a mere 17 years from now, 80% of children under the age of 12 will be considered obese.

    This is very serious. The longterm health implications for childhood obesity is grave and yet the percentage of obese kids seems to be marching toward 100%.

  4. Hey Douglas,

    I’ve been following your blog for the last few weeks and love your stuff!

    I just came across your post on fat distribution and wanted to say that you’re spot on and it’s great that you’re sharing that info with people who need to hear it.

    I understand that you love interval training as well and I wanted to offer you a few of my Treadmill Trainer iPod running workouts – which are awesome interval running programs.

    Let me know and I’ll happily send you over a few of the workouts.

    Fellow Torontonian, Yuri!

  5. Hi Yuri,

    Thanks for the generous offer. I accept.

    What I would like to do is distribute your running workouts to some of my clients (after beta testing them myself) and get their feedback.

    I would then write a post based upon their experience.

    What do you think?


  6. It took me many years to understand what this blog and other similar bloggers have articulated for me in the past- food isn’t anathema, and treating it that way contributes to weight & health problems. A pill that shuts down appetite seems to be treating absolutely the wrong concerns here. Processed food is a big problem, and any genetic link to obesity is triggered by environmental factors such as the chemicals in our food & a lack of exercise. Food itself is medicinal, and it’s obviously our one source of energy, lest we forget. I’m shocked to hear of anyone who wants to shut down their desire to eat and I’m amazed anyone believes it’s truly possible. We eat within hours of life, and we die within a few short days without food. A lack of *good* nutrition is what’s causing so much illness as it is. We definitely are overeating in general, and we only require so much nutrition, but I think anyone who goes around starving themselves thin or trying to live on 600 calories of crackers and processed ready-meals is kidding themselves about health, prescription or not.

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