The Skinny on New Asthma Drug

Catecholamine stimulates metabolism of fats and proteins without affecting the heart.

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A new generation asthma drug Formoterol, which is a synthetic catecholamine, seems to improve metabolism too. Could it be quit coughing and get skinny time?

Researchers in a small Australian study found that taking Formoterol for one week increased their energy metabolism, increased their fat burning, diminished their protein burning and did not speed up their hearts.

"Formoterol may be a two-fer in treating asthma and managing weight."

Laurence Ligon, M.D. and board-certified family practitioner, says, "The problem with the older generation catecholamines is they do affect metabolism, but they affect a lot of other things at the same time; i.e. Heart rate, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, sweating."

"Previously, they haven't been selective; you stimulate one thing then you are going to stimulate all the rest." Ligon continues to say, "They are also short acting, so their affects don't last long." 

Australian study leader, endocrinologist Paul Lee, PhD who focused his doctoral research on how various hormones impact metabolism, assures that this new Formoterol has the ability to be very specific and only impacts the kind of catecholamine receptors found in the lungs, while not impacting those found in the heart. 

The cattle industry used a prior generation catechelomine to reduce the fat and increase protein content of meat. It worked, but these older drugs caused the cattle's hearts to race.

Steve Baker, Texas attorney and cattleman, whose family runs a wonderful charity called Cattlemen Care (, which provides an avenue for cattlemen to donate their cows to be processed to feed Boys and Girls Club children and various other central Texas non-profits says, "I know that other ranchers used catecholamine on their livestock and the results were not positive on balance. This sort of thing is what turned much of the public and cattlemen like me against the use of hormones in beef cattle".

Lee continues to explain that the new synthetic Formoterol, unlike the older generation of catecholamine is highly selective for receptors in the lungs. Formoterol  also impacts similar receptors  found in muscle and fat.

Lee supposed before his study that the new medication should have beneficial metabolic effects without impacting the heart. He seems to be right.

Lee and his team tested this theory on a group of eight men. On average, the participant's energy metabolism was increased by more than 10 percent. Fat burning increased by more than 25 percent and protein burning fell by 15 percent. The increase in fat burning and decrease of protein burning will eventually lead to a loss of fat and increase in muscle. Additionally, none of the participants experienced any significant increase in heart rate.

The next step, Lee projects will be to test the drug on a larger group of people for a longer period of time to determine if the initial promising results translate into improvement in fat percentages.

The researchers presented their results at the June 2011 Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston. Results are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This is an off label use for Formoterol and is not recommended or endorsed by as a a metabolic enhancer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 6, 2011
Last Updated:
June 26, 2011