PHARMACY

Texas researchers identify fat-creating enzyme

BY Allison Cerra

DALLAS Drug developers have discovered that a certain protein in the body stimulates the formation of fat cells, according to a report on DrugResearcher.com.

Jonathan Graff and his colleagues at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas, who have been researching to find the cause of obesity, concluded that a collection of 1441 amino acids called Tripeptidyl peptidase II is the root of the problem.

Though the amino acids have been claimed to cause people to feel hungry, the latest research suggests it may be much more deeply involved in causing obesity.

The work was first conducted in worms, where the team found that TPPII regulates the equilibrium the worm maintains through metabolism. RNA interference of the target decreased worm fat stores independently of feeding behavior. This occurred in the worm’s intestines—the site of fat storage.

The process by which this happens was then investigated in mammalian cell cultures. TPPII was found to stimulate the development of fat cells from stem protein cells, a process known as adipogenesis. The protease enzyme TPPII breaks down other proteins—preadipocytes—to release energy, so Graff and his team modified the protein making it inactive. They then concluded that TPPII could still increase adipogenesis of the preadipocytes, creating fat cells.

Mice with dysfunctional versions of the gene in both chromosomes didn’t survive, but those with only one insertion in the DNA sequence survived and were thinner than normal mice, despite eating the same.

The authors hope that TPPII could be subjugated as a drug target to help fight increasing levels of obesity, though skeptics may say the only way to fight obesity is through proper diet and exercise.

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Wyeth hit with $134.5 million in Nevada lawsuit

BY Drew Buono

RENO, Nev. Wyeth has been ordered by a Washoe county court to pay more than $43 million each to three northern Nevada women who claimed that the company’s hormone replacement drugs, Prempro and Premarin caused their breast cancer, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The jury said the drugs were defective and found the company negligent for producing, manufacturing and selling them. The jurors awarded $7.5 million to each woman in past damages and $36 million-$40 million in future damages.

The jurors still have to decide whether the company is liable for punitive damages. Wyeth is also fighting about 5,300 similar lawsuits involving 7,800 women in state and federal courts across the country.

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Teva sues Apotex over Coreg infringement

BY Drew Buono

TRENTON, N.J. Teva has sued Apotex to prevent it from selling a generic version of the heart medication Coreg, according to Bloomberg.

The two companies, as well as other generic drug makers, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell a generic version on Sept. 5.  Teva says it owns four patents that cover various forms and processes to make the generic, carvedilol. The company also said that Apotex might have to buy the compound made using the patented process in order to sell the generic.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday in a federal court in New Jersey. Coreg had sales of $853.8 million in the first six months of 2007.

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