New research discovers a possible way to treat obesity

Nov, 2021 - By WMR

New research discovers a possible way to treat obesity

Researchers at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center have discovered a way to safely replicate the weight-loss advantages of a plant component that, despite its negative side effects, might be crucial in the development of obesity medicines.

Celastrol, a substance produced from the roots of a white-flowered plant native to China, has gotten a lot of press in recent years after studies revealed it can both prevent and treat obesity in rats. Because celastrol can induce side effects in mice such as lethargy and high blood pressure, researchers are trying to figure out how it works so they can design safe weight-loss medications for people. A recent study suggests celastrol necessitates a particular protein in a kind of neuron that controls metabolism, which may have addressed part of the issue.

Scientists discovered that by removing this protein from mouse neurons, they can replicate a "fed" signal, resulting in mice losing 7% of their body weight in two weeks while being fed a high-fat diet. The findings might one day assist people with obesity-related diseases such as diabetes to improve their glucose metabolism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, accounting for around 10% of the population.

The new study focused on a type of brain cell known as POMC neurons, which when triggered are connected to reduced blood glucose levels, and increased energy burn. The Williams lab recently discovered that this neuron is also important in how celastrol affects weight reduction. The activity of a protein called PERK in the brain area where POMC neurons are found was reduced in mice given the drug. The researchers also discovered that removing PERK from these neurons can resemble many of the weight-loss advantages of celastrol while avoiding the negative side effects commonly associated with anti-obesity medicines.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns against using celastrol. Despite the fact that plant extracts are offered as supplements, the National Institutes of Health has issued cautious comments, stating that scientists do not currently have adequate data on the efficacy and safety of celastrol. Moreover, the compound has already provided scientists with valuable information about how to build safer weight-loss procedures in the lab.

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