Scientists first discover key protein that regulates body weight (during cancer research)

Scientists first discover key protein that regulates body weight (during cancer research)

A new study has identified a specific protein, which resides in the hypothalamus, capable of governing the sense of hunger and, consequently, body weight. A discovery that paves the way for new treatments to treat various ailments, such as anorexia.

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By studying the behavior of a protein closely linked to a wide range of cancers, scientists discovered the role it plays in regulating body weight.

The breakthrough comes from medical scientists at Yale University, who were exploring what a protein, called augmentor-alpha, contributes to tumors.

It is known to attach to a molecule called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) receptor, which mutates and drives a range of cancers, and in an effort to find out more, the researchers sought to identify where the protein was most abundant.

A systematic review

The scientists found that the increase in the protein was most strongly expressed in a brain region called hypothalamus, which plays a key role in many important functions, including temperature regulation, stress response and metabolism.

More specifically, the scientists found an increase in protein in agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, which are known to promote hunger.

AgRP neurons are so important to feel hungry that you wouldn't eat without them. Then, when it became clear that the increase in alpha was dominantly expressed in these neurons, the discovery immediately suggested that the increase in alpha was involved in metabolism. From what we observed in this study, we think that one of the roles of increasing alpha in the body is to slow down metabolism when there is a shortage of food. It is as if the body is saying, 'You have no food, don't spend so much energy' ”.

These findings raise some interesting possibilities on the metabolic health. For example, increased alpha could offer a way to treat loss of appetite as a side effect of other medications, or eating disorders such asanorexia.

Because it is highly concentrated in the hypothalamus, and this brain region is known to play a role in a variety of bodily functions, therapies that manipulate alpha augmentation could have far-reaching effects, so further and more are needed. more in-depth studies.

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Photos: YaleNews

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