Fexaramine: The "Get Fooled" Diet Plan

Patient Expert

When I was ridiculously young, my friends and I would congregate and play the game of "house." It was a simple enough exercise. All we did was emulate the day-to-day of our own homes.

All the "Bobby's" and "Mary's" made pretend meals that were eaten off of pretend plates until our pretend appetites were satisfied. Mary would then pretend to wash pretend dishes in a pretend sink while Bobby dried them with a pretend towel.

The day would end with Mary and Bobby watching an imaginary program on an imaginary television, patting imaginary full stomachs courtesy of an imaginary meal.

The Imaginary Meal Pill

It looks like there might be some leftovers from those pretend meals we ate during childhood. Researchers have developed a new type of  diet pill  that tricks the body into believing that calories have been consumed. Once the wool is over the eyes of unsuspecting metabolisms, the body begins to burn fat.

The new pill,  fexaramine, remains in the intestines as opposed to dissolving in the blood the way that appetite suppressants or caffeinated diet drugs do. This action lowers the chance for side effects, according to scientists at the Salk Institute.

The pill has been described as as imaginary meal that sends out the same signals as when a person eats a lot of food. The body starts making room to store it except there are no calories or change in appetite.


The farensoid X receptor (FXR) is a protein associated with how the body releases bile from the liver, digests food, and stores fats and sugars. FXR is activated at the beginning of a meal to prepare for the arrival of food. Aside from its other duties, FXR changes blood sugar levels and causes the body to burn fats as it preps for the meal that is on the way.

Pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs that activate FXR in order to help treat diabetes and liver disease. Unfortunately, these drugs affect several organs and have side effects.

Ronald Evans, director of  Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory, developed fexaramine after wondering if switching on FXR only in the intestines would produce a different result. The body's molecular pathways respond to meals in a natural order and the first stop along the way is the intestines.

When the compound was given to mice daily for five weeks, they stopped gaining weight, lost fat and had lower blood sugar than untreated mice. Researchers are currently working on human clinical trials to test the effectiveness of fexaramine on obesity and metabolic syndrome.

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Salk Institute