A collagen-dissolving drug that is showing early promise in treating fatty tumours in people might one day be used to fight obesity, says a US company. It has already slimmed down obese mice.

Biospecifics, based in New York, has developed a concentrated, purified form of collagenase – a natural enzyme that breaks down collagen in cells. “Like all cells, fat cells are held together by collagen – once the collagen is hydrolysed, the cells liquefy,” says Tom Wegman, executive vice president. Injections of the enzyme are carefully localised to prevent other cells being damaged.

The drug is currently being given to 12 patients with small lipomas. These fat-filled, non-malignant growths are usually surgically removed. But injections of the drug have shrunk the tumours significantly in 10 of the patients so far.
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