A fat-melting cream is at the top of many people’s beauty wish lists, but it has always been squarely in the realm of science fiction. Until now. There’s a new topical fat fighter called XAF5 that’s in the trial stages (first target: undereye bags), and if it lives up to its promise, it could be bigger than Botox.
XAF5, which will require a prescription, is an ointment that reduces fat in the area where it is applied. It is the first nonsurgical treatment to diminish excess fat without injections, without heat or cold, and without a scalpel, radio frequency, or sound waves.
Like Botox and Latisse, XAF5 was discovered by chance. Glaucoma patients taking part in a trial of new drops to reduce eye pressure noticed a (welcome) side effect: less fullness under the treated eye. The ophthalmologists leading the study—Michael Singer and Murat Kalayoglu, who are also Ph.D.s—suspected there was something in the compound giving chemical instructions to the fat in the area, telling it to shrink. Seeing the possibilities, they started a company called Topokine Therapeutics and developed a nonirritating ointment using the same molecule that was in the eye drops. Because of the ointment’s formulation, says Singer, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, “it reduces fat without affecting eye pressure.”
Unsurprisingly, the first targets for XAF5 are puffy undereye bags. Fat-filled lower-eyelid festoons, known as steatoblepharon, develop over time and are, for most of us, an unwelcome sign of age. Currently the only way to reduce these is through a surgery called blepharoplasty, which is a procedure that plenty of people opt for: In 2014, there were 206,509 blepharoplasties, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Singer predicts the first patients for XAF5 will be holdouts, people who have been resisting surgery. “It’s not a replacement for surgery,” he says. “It’s a complement.”
According to the results of a study being presented this coming weekend at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in San Francisco, trial subjects age 40 to 70 who used the ointment nightly saw less fat in five weeks. By the end of ten weeks, patients were happier and felt they looked more rested and youthful; 85 percent of them were “satisfied.” Examiners in the double-blind studies saw the same improvement. Jeffrey Dover, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University Medical School and a Topokine board member, was one of the study’s observers. He calls the product “revolutionary,” and the research “impeccable and compelling.” (At this point in the product’s development, only physicians affiliated with the study or Topokine have had a chance to see the results.) Though FDA approval may not come before 2018, studies are already underway to test XAF5 on under-chin fat.
Next on Topokine’s agenda is TAT4, a gel formulated to increase fat using a variation of the same molecule. It could be used on the backs of hands, cheeks and necks, all areas that lose volume with age. Down the road, it may even be used “for breast augmentation,” says Singer.
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