Obesity and diabetes are among the fastest growing health problems in the world, and the hunt is in for a pill that can fight the problem. Now a Danish/British team has come up with a smart tool that will speed up the scientific hunting process, and we may be one step closer to a pill against obesity.
The body has a variety of functions that decide if we get overweight or not. For instance hormones control our appetite and the uptake of food. In recent years science has taken on the quest of investigating these physiological functions and finding a medical way to fight obesity.
One way that has attracted scientific interest is to work with a special protein, that can stimulate different physiological activities such as the production of appetite controlling hormones and hormones that control the intestinal uptake of food.
The particular protein is found in the cell membranes in intestines, in immune cells and in fat, and it is called FFA4. The protein is activated by long-chain free fatty acids released from the food such as omega-3 fatty acids. When this happens, it releases hormones that inhibit our appetite and increase sugar uptake from the blood.
"In some people this protein is not activated and they have a much higher risk of becoming obese. This can be explained by the involvement of the protein in hormone secretion and regulation of inflammation and insulin sensitivity", explains postdoc Bharat Shimpukade from Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy at University of Southern Denmark.
Together with Professor Trond Ulven from the same department and colleagues from University of Glasgow he is the co-author of a new paper on the subject in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
"We want to find a way to activate this protein, because that may help us to develop a drug against obesity or diabetes", says Bharat Shimpukade.
Molecules can activate proteins, so the job is "just" to find the right molecule.
|Contact: Birgitte Svennevig, press officer|
University of Southern Denmark