Sunday, January 12, 2014
New obesity treatment possible with novel protein discovery
Posted by Neill Abayon
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of US adults are now obese. But new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience details how a protein in the brain regulates food intake and body weight - opening new doors for the treatment of obesity.
The research team, led by Maribel Rios, associate professor of the department of neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine, say their findings may also help explain why some drugs, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can cause people to gain weight.
The investigators discovered that alpha2/delta-1 - a protein that has not previously been associated with obesity - assists the function of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Rios notes that in one of his previous studies, it was found that BDNF is crucial for appetite suppression.
But in this most recent study, the research team found that low levels of BDNF were linked to reduced function of alpha2/delta-1 in the hypothalamus - an area of the brain that plays an important role in regulating weight and food intake.