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Brain behind the Brawn: Vital Molecule in the Brain Controls Appetite

Combating obesity is one of the greatest challenges facing researchers today, and recent research holds promise for being a vital breakthrough to contain a growing epidemic.// The World Health Organization has estimated that there are a billion people in the world tackling overweight problems, of them nearly 300 million are obese.

Scientists have narrowed their sights on a new molecule that works on the source of the problem – appetite, the main reason for over weight and obesity. This molecule in the brain is capable of making a person feel full, and satisfied, which is what the world needs to set the obesity record straight.

Masatomo Mori and colleagues at Gunma University in Maebashi, Japan, have identified a key protein called nesfatin-1 which is present in the hypothalamus of rat brains. The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that regulates appetite and temperature. The effects of this molecule were observed on rats; when the molecule was injected into the brains of rats, a feeling of fullness is created , which results in the rats eating much less. This also caused the animals to lose weight.

It was observed that when the investigators injected nesfatin-1 directly into the brains of rats, the animals started eating less. When the protein was injected into their bodies without a break, for 10 days through a drip, the animals were found to lose weight.

To recheck the benefits of this molecule, antibodies blocking the action of nesfatin-1 were injected into the brains of healthy rats. The animals showed an increase in appetite that reflected in them gaining weight within 6 days.

"Nesfatin-1 might be a useful target for the development of drugs to treat obese people," the researchers say. The researchers are planning to conduct human trials that could also lead to the development of a version of the drug that can be normally injected into the body, yet assimilated in the brain to produce the desired effect.

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