A new weight loss product has achieved promising results in clinical trials, it has been revealed.
Taranabant is a new drug from Merck which works by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
Cannabinoid receptors are stimulated by ingredients in marijuana, which is well-known for its effects on appetite, and the new drug works by blocking the cannabinoid system and suppressing hunger.
Clinical trials involving 533 obese patients show that it leads to significant weight loss at doses ranging from 0.5 to six milligrams.
"That was surprising. We didn't expect weight loss at all doses," commented study author Steven Heymsfield of Merck Research Laboratories.
The findings, which are published in the journal Cell Metabolism, show that people taking 12 milligrams of the drug consumed 27 per cent fewer calories on average than those given a placebo and a larger clinical trial is now planned to confirm the results.
The trial follows the launch of a similar kind of drug, rimonabant, by Sanofi-Aventis, which is currently available for weight loss in a number of countries.