CUL discovers protein capable of regulating body weight
Friday, 05 December 2014
Researchers working on type 2 diabetes and obesity now have a new therapeutic target. Last Friday, the scientific research journal “Nature Communications” published a five-year-study study conducted by the Catholic University of Leuven (CUL). It demonstrates how an intestinal immune system protein actively regulates body weight.
The study was conducted on mice. It showed that deactivatinga certain protein (MyD88)caused them to lose weight and simultaneously reduced their obesity-associated type 2 diabetes.
By deactivating this particular protein, the intestinal immune system can be modified. Thus, the development of diabetes can be slowed down, adipose tissue growth can be limited, the chronic low grade inflammation present in obese subjects can be reduced, and the “filter” function of the intestine can be strengthened.
More good news: not only does modifying the intestinal immune system limit the spread of these diseases, but it could also facilitate weight loss. It could therefore turn out to have a notable therapeutic effect on patients living with diabetes and those already affected by obesity. MyD88 protein deactivation would simply allow the body to expend more energy.
The study, conducted by the team of Louvain Drug Research Institute researcher Associate Professor Patrice D. Cani, suggests a new therapeutic direction for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Although MyD88 protein deactivation can’t be tested on humans yet, Professor Cani explains that this discovery is still great news: “It’s the first time we’ve been able to show that the intestinal immune system really plays a role in weight regulation”.
The researchers are now trying to analyse intestinal bacteria more thoroughly. Their long-term goal is to be able to prevent diabetes and obesity in the future. According to the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP), 5.3% of Belgians aged over 15 are living with diabetes, and 90% of these are affected by type 2 diabetes. At the same time, nearly one in two Belgians is overweight and 14% of Belgians are obese.