SYDNEY, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have uncovered a drug that has the potential to reverse the negative effects of maternal obesity.
The drug, known as NMN, increases energy metabolism and could provide the same benefits as exercise in the fight against obesity in children born to overweight mothers.
Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Sydney (UNSW) uncovered the drug during a study on mice.
It produced promising test results in reducing the negative metabolic consequences of maternal obesity in offspring.
"There is much excitement about improving metabolism pharmacologically in ways that might be helpful for people with obesity," said Margaret Morris, study lead and head of pharmacology at the university's school of medical sciences, on Thursday.
"Our previous research in animal models showed that overweight expectant rats are more likely to have babies who may have an increased risk of developing obesity later in life. We also found that exercise can reverse most of the negative consequences of maternal obesity."
Given many people find it difficult to schedule exercise into their busy lives, or can not do so for various other reasons, the UNSW research team decided to investigate alternative approaches to deal with this globally rising health problem.
In a statement, Morris said NMN was used because, like exercise, it increased the function of mitochondria, which is the powerhouse of human cells and make energy.
Female mice whose mothers were obese were fed either a normal diet or a high-fat diet and given treadmill exercise for nine weeks, or NMN for 18 days.
Researchers found both treatments reduced the negative metabolic consequences of maternal obesity.
They reduced body fat and led to improvement in glucose tolerance and markers of mitochondrial function.
"What is really encouraging about our findings is that a short-term NMN treatment of animals from obese mothers had the same benefit as their siblings who exercised," Morris said.
"Our study offers some promise that we may have another approach to prevent obesity in children from overweight mothers."
This study was published in online journal Scientific Reports. Follow-up research will examine whether the drug has any toxic or other negative effects.