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Molecules regulate appetite

Oct 27, 2006

In mammals special molecules send messages of "fullness" to the brain.

HONG KONG - A discovery, that opens new ways to treat obesity in humans, has been made by a group of scientists in Japan. They have discerned the molecule considered to be responsible for the feeling of "fullness" in mammals.

Scientists based on the theory that hypothalamus, a region of the brain, controls the appetite. The breakthrough is the finding of an agent that triggers a decrease or increase of the appetite. The molecule naturally produced in the brain was identified as nesfatin-1, online version of the journal Nature reported, Sunday.

The researchers made experiments on rats, injecting the molecule into the rodents' brains. The observation revealed the drop of appetite and significant weight loss. At the same time the blocking of nesfatin-1 has made the rats eat more.

The injection of anti-nesfatin-1 antibody has lead to the appetite growth and progressive weight gain, Reuters reported, citing Masatomo Mori, Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine.

The finding opens new territory in treating obesity. According to the World Health Organization, the number of obese adults in the world approaches 1 billion. Both economically advanced countries and the developing world have faced the problem of obesity, regarding it as a major health problem. It has been linked to chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, hypertension and stroke.

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