In two recent separate studies, it has been found that reducing obesity could be just a pill away. It may be possible for a pill to affect the body’s habit of building up damaging fat deposits beneath the skin.
At Harvard University, scientists have been screening drugs that could turn white cells or bad cells into brown fat cells that are better for the body. They have already found two compounds that act on human cells, when grown in a laboratory.
These scientists believe that thy can lower the amounts of white fat linked to diabetes ad heart disease, by upping the amount of brown fat which burns energy. These findings could mean that a ‘pill could replace the treadmill’ in the fight against obesity.
In London’s Imperial College, researchers have found an enzyme that is charge of craving sugar in the brain’s hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating food intake. The researchers think that glucokinase could be a significant finding when creating any anti-obesity drug.
“This is the first time anyone has discovered a system in the brain that responds to a specific nutrient, rather than energy intake in general. It suggests that when you’re thinking about diet, you have to think about different nutrients, not just count calories,” said James Gardiner of Imperial College, who led the study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
When tested on rats and the activity of the enzyme was boosted within the brain, the animals consumed more glucose in comparison to normal food. A drug that targets Glucokinase and its causes could potentially reduce obesity by lowering the perceived need for sugary foods.
“Our brains rely heavily on glucose for energy. It’s clearly a very important nutrient, but in our evolutionary past it would have been hard to come by. So we have a deep-rooted preference for glucose-rich foods and seek them out,” Dr Gardiner said.
The Harvard study is thought to be healthier for patients as it reduces the probability of type 2 diabetes said Chad Cowan of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Dr Cowan discovered that just two small molecules can trigger the transformation of fat stem cells, which ordinarily would produce white fat into brown fat. These brown fat cells will burn excess energy, reducing the number of white fat cells overall.
“You’re constantly replenishing your fat tissue so if you were on a medication to convert the cells, each new fat cell would be more metabolically active and would convert to brown fat over time,” Dr Cowan said.
Source: The Independent
Tagged in Obesity