DI-PEG 20 a Cancer-Fighting Drug Found to Be Effective for Weight Loss.

Pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG 20) a cancer-fighting drug still under study is effective for reducing body weight by improving the body’s metabolism. The study was done on mice by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine.

Obese Woman

Obese Woman

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The study

The researchers worked on two groups of mice: one group consisted of mice that tended to become obese as configured by their genes; the other was composed of already-obese mice as a result of the intake of a high-fatty diet. The outcome of the treatment of these groups of mice with the drug – ADI-PEG 20 – was as follows: the group that possessed gene configuration to obesity no longer became obese, and the other that became obese from eating high-fatty foods lost about 25% of body weight.

Findings carried out on the drug for the treatment of cancer cells revealed that the drug breaks down arginine, the amino acid that serves as an important fuel source to these cells. It was also discovered that genes that control the breakdown of these cancer-fueling amino acids are highly activated when the body lacks an external energy source, i.e., when no food is been taken into the body.

This discovery of the connection between arginine breakdown and body-fasting conditions stimulated the researchers to make further research on the drug. They wanted to know if the working mechanism of the drug included activation of these genes. After research, they found that the drug does produce the same effect. It does so by causing cells to eat up themselves – a process known as autophagy. Intake of the drug puts the body in the fasting state (a state where there is no external source of energy in form of food). As a result, cells that are damaged get eaten up and replaced by healthier ones.

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A series of clinical testings of the drug has been performed by the researchers to confirm its level of efficiency in treating several cancer types including how safe it is for humans. If the results turn out to be favorable, then, the use of this drug would go a long way in ensuring effective and safer treatment of cancer patients since it acts on improving the body’s metabolism and starving the tumors. Metabolic therapies are much safer than chemos and the use of radiation since they produce fewer side effects.

Also, the researchers would like to carry out further clinical tests to determine if the drug can produce similar effects of weight loss in obese people, as with the obese mice; more importantly, they are researching ways to make the drug safe for use on humans.

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Clinical significance

If the tests come out positive, it would help improve surgical procedures performed on obese patients, since they need to lose at least ten percent of their body weight before surgery can be done, to be effective and result in lesser post-surgical complications.

In addition, the use of this drug in treating various cancer types is more efficient since it produces lesser side effects unlike chemo and the use of radiation.


This drug is of great clinical importance in terms of cancer treatment and improved surgical procedures for obesity.

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Pegylated arginine deiminase drives arginine turnover and systemic autophagy to dictate energy metabolism



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