A team led by Ramesh Narayanan, PhD, MBA, associate professor in the Department of Medicine and director of the Center for Cancer Drug Discovery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has identified a molecule that could eventually lead to a new type of treatment for obesity.
A paper by the team detailing the research was published in the latest online edition of FASEB Journal, which is produced by the Federation for American Societies for Experimental Biology.
The paper reported that the molecule activates an estrogen receptor and prevents weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet. The molecule controls body weight by increasing energy expenditure and body heat, converting white adipose tissue (bad fat) to brown adipose tissue (good energy-burning fat) without increased activity in the form of exercise. This is unlike current treatments for obesity that act systemically to induce the feeling of satiety.
“In the absence of clinical trial data, these findings have to be cautiously interpreted,” Dr. Narayanan said. “If these findings are reproduced in future clinical trials in obese patients, this could become the first drug to treat obesity that utilizes mechanisms distinct from those that induce satiety. These results provide early hope for patients suffering from obesity and metabolic diseases.”
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