Making progress with weight loss through clinical trial

Amanda G. of Tempe started gradually gaining extra weight in elementary and high school but was not especially heavy until she reached her later 20s and 30s.

She always had energy and liked working out, but no matter how little she ate or how much she exercised in recent years, she could not seem to lose weight.

“It didn’t matter whether I ate or not,” says Amanda, adding that she would sometimes fast for days and still not lose weight. “Even after a 14-day juice cleanse, I still gained weight. It’s been a frustrating problem. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix it.”

Issues start to mount

In March 2020, Amanda was sidelined with long COVID-19, resulting in hot flashes during the day and sweats at night. After years of going from one doctor to another and believing she might have some kind of hormone imbalance or thyroid trouble, she visited an HonorHealth rheumatologist, who suggested she consider a weight-loss clinical trial at the HonorHealth Research Institute.

Through the Institute’s GI Bariatrics Research Division, DNA tests showed Amanda had a genetic variant that predisposes her to gaining weight and suppressing her metabolism.

“I knew something was wrong,” shares Amanda. “I was working out three to four hours a day. I wasn’t seeing any results, and I was confused about why.” She tipped the scales at more than 220 pounds before she enrolled in the DAYBREAK clinical trial.

Clinical trial brings new hope

Under the guidance of James Swain, MD, bariatric surgeon, medical director of the GI Bariatrics Research Division at the Research Institute and primary investigator of the clinical trial — and after nearly a year of self-administered daily injections of a drug called setmelanotide — she’s dropped nearly 50 pounds.

“I’ve eaten more food in the past year than I ever have in my entire adult life, and I’ve lost a lot of weight doing so,” says Amanda, who now can build muscle and have longer physical endurance. “I have a lot more energy. I’m losing weight, and I’m eating a lot more.” 

Based on her height of 5’ 2” — and in consultation with Dr. Swain — Amanda said she believes she could continue dropping weight, aiming for a target weight of 120-130 pounds, or about the same weight as when she was in her early 20s. “I don’t think I’m done yet,” she adds. 

Once believing that she would never find a solution, Amanda has a whole new outlook on life. 

“It’s been very gratifying for everything to finally fall into place and work correctly,” she explains. “More than anything, I just want to be as muscular as possible, and as healthy as I can be.”

Amanda also speaks very highly of Dr. Swain. “He’s been great,” she shares. “He’s been very informative. He’ll explain everything in detail. I’ve been enjoying learning from him. Dr. Swain explained it was in my brain, and it was not something I could turn off or on by myself, no matter what I did.”

Amanda not only has hope for herself, but hope for others, as well. “It absolutely has given me a more positive outlook on my life,” she says.

Clinical trials available for weight loss

The demand for innovative – and less invasive – treatments for weight loss continues to grow. The HonorHealth Research Institute pursues clinical research to treat obesity placing an emphasis on investigating new endoscopic and nonsurgical approaches focusing on treatments that don’t permanently alter the anatomy of your GI tract.

Explore weight loss clinical trials