Pill that tells brain to stop eating in offing

January 27th, 2010 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 27 (IANS) Researchers are working to develop a pill composed of leptin, the protein that tells our brain to stop eating and, hence, reverse obesity.
Leptin regulates appetite in mammals and its levels decrease when fasting and rise during meals. It has been proven to be an appetite suppressant when administered intravenously to pathologically obese people.

Post-doctoral student Philippe Cammisotto from the University of Montreal is leading the charge for a leptin-based, appetite suppressing pill with Moise Bendayan and Émile Levy, University de Montreal (U-M) professors in pathology and nutrition, respectively.

“Taken orally, such a pill would provide obese people with the sensation of being full. They would eat less and in turn lose weight,” says Cammisotto.

“We hope to start animal testing in 2010,” says Bendayan. “The molecule is easy to synthesize and the protocol is ready.”

“Obesity is a big problem in our society, no pun intended,” says Bendayan. “To develop medication to combat obesity would be a great way for our laboratory to contribute to public health.”

The new pill, under creation, is based on a startling U-M discovery from 2006: Leptin isn’t only secreted by fatty tissues. “From the first bite of any meal, leptin levels skyrocket in the bloodstream. Yet this has nothing to do with the leptin stored in the fatty tissues,” says Bendayan.

“In the lab, we proved that up to 80 percent of cells in our stomach also produce leptin. Those are the ones that regulate appetite,” Bendayan adds, according to a U-M release.

The U-M finding led to a different understanding of how the protein works, since leptin alone can’t survive in an acidic stomach without assistance.

Indeed, leptin protects itself with an accomplice that acts as its bodyguard and accompanies the protein through the digestive system until it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

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