This drug for migraine headaches may help you lose weight

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Scientists at UT Southwestern have made a novel discovery that a class of drugs commonly used for migraines, known as triptans, could potentially aid in battling obesity.

These new findings, recently reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggest a breakthrough in repurposing existing drugs to curb appetite and induce weight loss.

Triptans and Weight Loss

Triptans, generally used to treat migraines and cluster headaches, have shown promising results in altering eating habits and reducing weight in obese mice over a month when administered daily.

The leader of the study, Dr. Chen Liu, highlighted the potential of safely repurposing these drugs, already proven safe for humans, to suppress appetite and reduce weight.

The Obesity Crisis

With more than 41% of adults in the U.S. affected by obesity, the risk of developing other health complications such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers increases significantly.

Traditional treatments for obesity mainly concentrate on modifying eating habits and enhancing physical activity.

The Role of Serotonin

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain and body, is known to play a crucial role in managing appetite. It acts by binding to different receptors, signaling cells to alter their behavior.

However, with 15 different serotonin receptors present, the scientific community has found it challenging to pinpoint the exact role each receptor plays in appetite regulation.

Previous attempts to target specific serotonin receptors have been withdrawn due to undesirable side effects.

How Triptans Work

Triptans work differently by targeting the serotonin 1B receptor (Htr1b), which hadn’t been extensively studied in the context of appetite and weight loss before.

Dr. Liu and his team tested six prescription triptans on obese mice on a high-fat diet, finding that four out of six resulted in reduced food intake.

Particularly, frovatriptan showed significant weight-loss results, with treated mice losing an average of 3.6% body weight in 24 days.

Future of Weight Loss Treatment

Dr. Liu believes that since triptans are typically prescribed for short-term use, any long-term impacts on weight and appetite might have gone unnoticed.

The team’s research indicates that frovatriptan impacts food intake and weight by specifically targeting the serotonin 1B receptor, shedding light on its potential role in treating obesity and controlling food intake.

This new insight is crucial for drug development, pointing not only to the possibility of repurposing existing triptans but also to a deeper understanding of how the serotonin 1B receptor can be targeted for obesity treatment.


This groundbreaking discovery by Dr. Liu and his team at UT Southwestern offers a ray of hope in addressing the obesity epidemic by repurposing triptans, a migraine medication.

While these findings are in the early stages, they open up possibilities for new therapeutic interventions to treat obesity, potentially leading to more advanced, effective solutions.

The targeted approach on the serotonin 1B receptor can revolutionize weight loss treatment, helping to mitigate the rising obesity levels and associated health risks.

If you care about weight management, please read studies about diets that could boost your gut health and weight loss, and 10 small changes you can make today to prevent weight gain.

For more information about obesity and health, please read studies showing a green diet can reduce belly fat much better, and the newest diabetes drugs may lower body weight and blood sugar.

The research findings can be found in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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