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Key to burning fat faster discovered

m more efficient would have required a major reconstruction. In some cases so difficult that it is on the order of transforming a handsaw into a chainsaw, says the chemist, Assistant Professor Nikos Hatzakis, who was deeply involved in the scrutiny of the enzymes.

"Changing the fundamental shape of a tool is always difficult. Whether it's saw or an enzyme. But working longer hours with the same tool is infinitely easier. What we've achieved, is to make enzymes work longer hours", explains Hatzakis.

Scrutiny on the Nanoscale

Observing that enzymes even have an on-off switch may sound easy, but first the Bio Nano- team had to devise a way to study individual enzyme molecules. These are so small, that there are trillions in just a drop of water. So measuring the work of only one enzyme could be compared to looking down from the moon to detect each time a carpenter in a building in Copenhagen swings his hammer.

Light emitting fat

To perform their studies the researchers chose a fat degrading lipase enzyme model system in collaboration with Danish industrial enzyme producer Novozymes.

They used "fat" that would emit light each time the enzyme took a bite. This way they could monitor each and every catalytic cycle or single movement of work. To ensure realism the enzymes were placed on an artificial cell wall. An "in vivo like membrane system", says Stamou.

"Natural enzymes live in cells. Looking at them in a non native environment, would tell us as much as looking at a carpenter working in outer space wearing a space suit would tell us about builders", explains Dimitrios Stamou and concludes:

"Now that we have understood how to switch enzymes on and off we could use this knowledge in the future both for curing diseases but also to design novel enzymes for industrial applications".

Contact: Jes Andersen
University of Copenhagen

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