Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Single Enzyme Key to Appetite, Weight and Diabetes?

news you may not knowI See a Magic Bullet in Your Future

Yes, it's time once again to discuss the proverbial magic bullet. You know, that simple little pill you take once each day that solves all of life's ills. Or, in this case, the dietary trifecta of appetite, weight control and diabetes. So, what are the odds of such a little pill? Well...

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center are doing their best to make the magic bullet a reality. "We believe we have identified an important drug development target that could potentially turn into a metabolic triple play: appetite control, weight loss and blood sugar management," said Tony Means, PhD.

He and his team have isolated a single enzyme, known as CaMKK2, which may revolutionize the way we treat appetite, obesity and diabetes. The enzyme, which was tested in mice, is found in the hypothalamus and is known to have a significant role in appetite stimulation. It's triggered by a hormone in the gut, ghrelin, which kicks into high gear when the stomach is empty. The result is a cascade of appetite and hunger, French fries and chocolate shakes.

But, Means found that blocking CaMKK2 had an amazing impact. The mice genetically engineered to lack the CaMKK2 enzyme stayed skinny even on a high fat diet. His team also found that directly blocking CaMKK2 in mice through injections caused them to eat less and lose weight.

Good news indeed.

The challenge is now to develop an appropriate delivery mechanism for use with humans. In the meantime, while we await the magic bullet, consider the more conventional approach to appetite control: smaller portions, fresh air and exercise. Who knows, you just may stumble upon your very own natural magic bullet.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about developing healthy eating habits, see this from Harvard University.


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