Scientists with UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute have identified the molecular mechanism that can cause weight gain for those using a common antipsychotic medication. The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggest new ways to counteract the weight gain, including a drug recently approved to treat genetic obesity, according to the study, which involved collaborations with scientists at UT Dallas and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
“If this effect can be shown in clinical trials, it could give us a way to effectively treat patients for their neuropsychiatric conditions without this serious side effect,” says lead author Chen Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and neuroscience, and with UTSW’s O’Donnell Brain Institute and Hypothalamic Research Center.
Up to 20 percent of people who take risperidone, an atypical antipsychotic prescribed for a wide variety of neuropsychiatric conditions, add more than 7 percent to their baseline weight within a few weeks of treatment, contributing to other health problems such as high blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. The weight gain leads many patients to stop using the medication.
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