The role of appetite is critical to our health. Eat too much, and a procession of diseases begins to march down the arteries of your overstressed body. Eat too little, and you literally waste away, your body starved of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
This is where MIC-1 comes in.
Scientists at the University of New South Wales and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research say the MIC-1 molecule is the key to appetite. Their recent study assessed the impact of MIC-1 on lab mice with cancer. They discovered that most common cancers result in the production of large amounts of MIC-1. They further found that MIC-1 serves as a powerful appetite suppressant, in effect switching off the appetite in the cancerous mice.
"This work has given us a better understanding of the part of the brain that regulates appetite. Our bodies send complex chemical signals to our brains, which interpret them and send back responses, in this case 'eat' or 'don't eat'. Our research indicated that MIC-1 is a previously unrecognized molecule sending a 'don't eat' signal to the brain," said Professor Herzog, Director of the Neuroscience Research Program at Garvan.
But, when the mice were injected with an antibody that negated the effect of MIC-1, the appetite returned to normal. Extreme weight loss is common in late-stage cancer patients, and often hastens death, as the body rapidly weakens. The ability to reverse this process through restoring the appetite holds great promise.
On the flip side of the appetite equation, the researchers have shown that obese mice treated with MIC-1 eat less. This both confirms the "on-off switch" impact of MIC-1, and holds out the hope of utilizing this knowledge to develop obesity treatments.
The scientists must next develop an antibody appropriate for human use and conduct clinical trials.To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To assess your daily caloric needs for weight loss or weight maintenance, see this interactive tool from the Mayo Clinic.