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Fighting obesity may be as easy as ATP, says UH researcher
Date:10/22/2007

HOUSTON, Oct. 22, 2007 Wearing a portable instrument to monitor metabolism in the fight against obesity and its related health consequences may be on the horizon thanks to collaborative research being performed at the University of Houston and The Methodist Hospital.

Physics Professor John Miller, director of the High-Temperature Superconducting Device Applications and Nano-Biophysics Laboratory in the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH), recently received a three-year, $623,425 exploratory research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a joint program with the National Science Foundation (NSF) on biosensors for energy balance and obesity.

In particular, Miller is targeting metabolic syndrome, a pernicious complication of obesity that affects about 20 percent of obese individuals and greatly increases the likelihood of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. His long-term goal is to develop innovative technologies that detect metabolic activity for research and clinical applications.

Although drug treatments for metabolic syndrome exist, the cost of drugs to treat all obese individuals is prohibitive, Miller said. Therefore, there is a critical public health need to develop technologies that can provide early diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and enable cost-effective treatment, as well as to measure metabolic activity and other components of energy balance in obese patients.

The chemical currency of energy and metabolism that is used by the cellular machinery of all living organisms is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) a molecule involved in more chemical reactions than any other on Earth except water. In animals, plants and fungi, ATP is produced by enzyme complexes in mitochondria that live and reproduce inside the cell. ATP molecules can be thought of as packets of fuel that power biological molecular motors. If one were to suddenly run out of ATP, death would be ins
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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