For dedicated couch potatoes, it sounds almost too good to be true.
A drug inspired by red wine could allow them to eat as much junk food as they like without putting on a pound.
It could also provide the benefits of exercise without moving a muscle. And if that were not enough, the pill - which mimics the action of resveratrol, the 'wonder ingredient' in red wine - may also prevent diabetes.
The man-made drug, which is known only as SRT1720, fools the body into thinking food is scarce and it has to burn off fat to survive.
The brainchild of scientists at
Previous studies have endowed resveratrol with the ability to ward off a host of ills, from old age to heart disease, cancer, obesity and Alzheimer's disease.
Sirtris has already developed a concentrated form of resveratrol in a pill.
However, the new drug could be even more powerful and have fewer side-effects.
David Sinclair, co-founder of Sirtris, which is now owned by Glaxo-SmithKline, said recently: 'The excitement here is that we are not talking about red wine any more. We are talking about real drugs.'
In experiments, mice given SRT1720 didn't gain an ounce, despite being fed fatty foods. Blood tests suggested they were also protected against diabetes.
The treated animals also had more stamina and were able to run twice as far. However, they had to be forced to exercise.
Left to their own devices, they would move around less than normal, the journal Cell Metabolism reports.
The drug is made up of chemicals that affect the body in a similar way to resveratrol.
Both resveratrol and the new drug trigger a protein called SIRT1 that plays a key role in regulating the body's supply of energy.
The result is that the body burns off its fat stores, even when food is plentiful.
Researcher Professor Johan Auwerx, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in
'But unlike resveratrol, these new chemical entities target only the SIRT1 pathway, making them more selective and potent for achieving these metabolic benefits.'
He added that the drug, which is around seven years from the market, is likely to be used to treat obesity and diabetes.
Prof Ian Broom, an obesity expert from
But he cautioned that much more research - including studies into side-effects - would be needed before SRT1720 became accepted as a treatment for obesity. [via daily mail]