A new scientific discovery could be a dream come true for the one in three Americans who are chronically overweight or obese. That’s because this discovery burns energy, lowers body fat, boosts muscle mass and strength, increases physical activity levels, and reduces inflammation—according to animal studies.
It’s called BAM15, and while the research is still in the early stages, scientists say it works by targeting a process called mitochondrial uncoupling.
Mitochondrial uncoupling is part of the body’s energy creation process. Ordinarily, two distinct processes are coupled together to create energy in the mitochondria—the power plants— of cells. By uncoupling these processes, the mitochondria become less efficient, so they’re forced to burn more energy. This excess energy generates heat and fuel for the body instead of stored fat.
As a result, metabolism in the cell is changed and more calories can be burned without having to restrict food intake or undertake exercise – a dieter’s dream!
Previous research on this breakthrough mitochondrial uncoupling agent BAM 15 demonstrated this drug had a greater ability to prevent diet-induced obesity and preserve lean muscle mass in young mice than dietary restriction. In addition, it succeeded safely and wasn’t toxic even at high doses.
For the latest research, scientists from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana wanted to see how the drug affects mice with an age equivalent to that of humans 60 to 65-years-old.
Their findings are remarkable.
Increased Physical Strength By 40 Percent
The scientists were especially interested in assessing BAM15’s impact on the growing problem of sarcopenic obesity in older folks. A diagnosis of sarcopenic obesity means you have relatively low muscle mass in combination with obesity. The condition restricts physical function, decreases the ability to perform daily tasks, raises the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, involves longer hospital stays and increases the risk of death. The condition is considered a major health concern in seniors, threatening their independence, and giving them a poorer quality of life.
For the new research the scientists fed two groups of mice a high fat diet for ten weeks, but only gave one group BAM15. The control mice put on weight as expected, but the treated mice lost weight. What’s more, the treated mice had 40 percent more physical strength, 20 percent lower levels of body fat, eight percent more muscle mass, and they were also more active and had a greater expenditure of energy.
What’s more, the impact of BAM15 on biological processes linked to sarcopenic obesity included lower markers of skeletal muscle inflammation and systemic inflammation, lower markers of stress, degradation, and death in skeletal muscle tissue.
This is all great news, but perhaps even better is what BAM15 appeared to do in the study for cellular mitochondria.
Steps up Production of New Mitochondria
According to the Louisiana scientists, BAM15 appears to positively influence mitochondrial health in two ways. It:
- Increases the body’s natural production of new mitochondria
- Ramps up the body’s natural removal of damaged and dying mitochondria.
By having such a positive impact on mitochondria, inflammation, and other key processes, BAM15 has the potential to not only prevent sarcopenic obesity, but to improve health and aging in general.
That’s pretty fantastic news! As we’ve written about before, anything that can safely reduce systemic inflammation is a “win” in the fight against the physical damage of aging and will help promote longevity.
Living Longer, Healthier Lives
It’s important to note that the idea to target mitochondrial uncoupling to increase longevity isn’t a new one. Interestingly, other methods used to lower the efficiency of mitochondrial coupling resulted in insects and rodents having their lives extended.
However, Dr. John Kirwan, lead author of the new study, says his focus is on improving the quality of human life, not the quantity.
“These data highlight that mitochondrial uncouplers may play an important role in improving healthspan – the time a person enjoys good health – in advanced age,” Dr. Kirwan explains.
“Extending healthspan is even more important than extending lifespan. Suppose you could add 20 or 30 years to a person’s life. What would be the point if their quality of life was awful.”
I agree and I imagine you do, too. I’ll keep you posted as new research into BAM15 is conducted and published.