Promise of Anti-Obesity Therapy

 

For some people, obesity isn't simply the result of overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Something in their bodies "goes haywire," according to scientists at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Center in La Jolla, California. When that happens, the unfortunate folks start storing more fat and burning less energy. Not only that, but their bodies inhibit the production of brown fat, also known as "good fat", and stock up instead on white fat, known as "bad fat."

Now the Sanford-Burnham study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has implicated a lack of a protein called p62 as the cause of the problem. These findings indicate that p62 might make a promising target for new therapies aimed at curbing obesity.

A release from the center quotes Jorge Moscat, Ph.D. as saying, “Without p62 you’re making lots of fat but not burning energy, and the body thinks it needs to store energy. It’s a double whammy.” Moscat and colleagues set out to pinpoint the specific tissue responsible for obesity when p62 is missing. They showed that p62 is “a master regulator” in normal fat metabolism. According to Moscat, the discovery of p62’s role in brown fat tissue is encouraging because fat tissue is much more accessible than other parts of the body—the brain, for example—for potential drug therapies. “This makes it easier to think about new strategies to control obesity,” he said.

 

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