Fat-busting, super diet pill could help beat obesity by preventing those hunger pangsScientists in the US have found the secret to fighting the flab may lie in the brainA gut-shrinking drug that targets the receptor controlling hunger could be available within months
19:12 GMT, 9 June 2012
Fat-busting: Scientists believe a drug could be developed to tackle obesity by targeting hunger pangs in the brain
A super diet pill aimed at curbing fat people's appetites could soon be a reality thanks to boffins who have found the secret to tackling obesity may lie in the brain.
The pill would not only shrink waist lines but also the 4.2 billion NHS bill for treating obesity related illness such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Scientists in the US believe the hypothalmus area of the brain – a receptor controlling body temperature, hunger, thirst and fatigue – is particularly sensitive to drugs which could hold the key to fighting flab.
Professor Domenico Accili, from Columbia University Medical Center, said: 'We've identified a receptor that is immediately involved in regulating food intake.
'What is especially encouraging is that it is a highly 'druggable' target. In fact, several existing medications already seem to interact with this receptor.'
The researchers, whose findings are published in the Cell journal, studied insulin and leptin hormones, which inhabit the AgRP molecule and are vital to maintaining the body's energy balance.
They did so by creating a strain of mice to explore the effects of appetite stimulation and discovered a gene called Gpr17.
The scientists found that when the gene was injected into normal rodents, it resulted in an increase in appetite and a decrease when it was blocked – without negative side effects.
They said the gene is also found in humans and would be a good target for fat busting drugs, which could be available in only a few months by modifying existing medicines to target the brain.
Nearly a quarter of adults in the UK are classed as obese, with the figure predicted to rise to 40 per cent by 2022.
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, told The Daily Express: 'Of all the measures that over time will quell obesity this has got to be one of the most promising avenues.'