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Scientists work on breaking down hunger

03 April 2019 | News

New method of altering peptide structure could help control metabolic disorders and their treatment

Obesity continues to increase in our population, impacting patients and the health care system. One solution for weight control is an invasive surgery to make the stomach smaller, known as bariatric surgery, which can have serious complications.

Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone” and plays an important role in the body to help regulate appetite. This hormone encourages appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage. It does so by binding to and activating the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). High levels of ghrelin and GHSR are linked to many metabolic disorders including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

New research shows that a cyclic peptide, made of small chains of amino acids in a circular pattern, binds to GHSR. This binding stops GHSR from promoting appetite and reduces food intake. This discovery makes the peptide a promising agent for the treatment of metabolic disorders.

One issue is natural peptides make poor drugs because they are easily destroyed by enzymes in the body. This challenge is being addressed through a new study by a team of researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada.

The hope is to make the new peptide more resistant to being broken down by enzymes and allow it to bind better to the receptor. 

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