In the United States, heart disease is the most common killer, claiming more than 630,000 lives per year while cancer is the second-most common. Those numbers could see a drop in the future, however, if a drug developed by scientists has anything to say about it. The drug is called Trodusquemine, and was developed by a team led by Michael Zasloff that was intended to be used in breast cancer treatment, but might be able to “melt away” fat.

The team from the University of Aberdeen were doing pre-clinical tests on rats that were diagnosed with atherosclerosis. This is a disease that causes fat to build up in the arteries, causing both heart attacks and strokes. During the trial, just a single dose of Trodusquemine was able to reverse the effects of atherosclerosis, drastically reducing the likelihood of heart disease.

Trodusquemine blocked the PTP1B enzyme in the mice, which is more commonly found in people who are either obese or suffer from inflammation problems. Professor Mirela Delibegovic of the University of Aberdeen said that “All humans have some level of atherosclerosis. As you age, you start to develop these fatty streaks inside your arteries. It is a big problem for people who are overweight or have underlying cardiovascular conditions.”

The team added that it was the first time that Trodusquemine had been used in treating heart disease, and that “These have only been tested at pre-clinical level, in mice, so far but the results were quite impressive and showed that just a single dose of this drug seemed to completely reverse the effects of atherosclerosis.” The researchers say that “The next step is to test the ability of this drug to improve outcomes in human patients with developed atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.”

There’s hope that the drug will be able to completely reverse the effects of heart disease, having the ability to “mimic” the effects that you’d get from exercise. It’s also expected that Trodusquemine would have the ability to help overweight and obese people lose weight. The studies also showed that the drug is able to help curb appetite and increase energy overall.

Over the course of the eight week study, obese mice were able to lose 20 percent of their body weight, and around 50 percent of their fat mass. Food intake was greatly reduced, as well, even if the mice didn’t receive more than one dose. This could be great news for the millions that struggle with their weight and the health problems that come along with carrying extra weight.

The study concluded by saying “we demonstrate that global pharmacological inhibition of PTP1B, in addition to its anti-diabetic and weight loss benefits, resulted in both the reduction and reversal in atherosclerotic plaque formation under obesogenic conditions (as achieved by chronic and a single dose exposure respectively)…Hence our data strongly suggest that PTP1B inhibitors may be used in pathologies other than type- 2 diabetes and that those currently in pre-clinical trials, could be repurposed to target chronic inflammatory pathologies, such as atherosclerosis and help reduce (cardiovascular disease) risk.”

There are many phases that a drug has to go through before getting mass approval, but the early studies suggest that Trodusquemine could eventually hit the market and save lives. The fourth phase is the final when it becomes available to the public in a smaller amount, and around 25 percent of drugs make it to this point. If all things go well, Trodusquemine could become part of that group.