Cheap, effective and -- above all -- safe weight loss drugs could help ease the obesity epidemic. These mice demonstrate how a new weight loss jab called morpholino works, as they scuttle along a treadmill.
Images using infrared as they exercise, the different colours reveal how much energy different parts of creatures are using -- red means a lot. On the right-hand mouse, there's a bright red spot on its left hind leg -- the spot where it received an injection of morpholino -- while on the other, it's green because there was no injection. That, along with other experimental evidence, helps demonstrate that the spot is using more calories than surrounding tissue, despite performing the same actions.
Morpholino can be designed to target specific genes, and in this case it's being used to to affect the function of proteins that help store energy. As the image shows, the effect causes cells to burn more energy than usual during mild exercise. The hope is to create a weight loss drug that's effective and safe, which encourages the body to burn more calories by simply performing everyday activities rather than intense exercise. [Molecular Therapy via New Scientist]