A protein that links gluttony and weight gain may be a novel target for antiobesity drugs. Mice lacking this protein can indulge in fatty food but remain as slim as mice on a lower-fat diet, a new study reports. The finding suggests a new avenue to help morbidly obese people lose weight.
When food is scarce, stockpiling energy in fat cells is a survival advantage. But when food is plentiful, as in industrialized countries, genes that promote fat storage lead to obesity (SN: 4/14/01, p. 238: Available to subscribers at Fatty Findings). The molecular mechanisms that translate extra calories into fat deposition are largely unknown.
Now, researchers at Kyoto University in Japan have identified a key pathway in the process. Scientists have long known that the hormone called gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) is secreted into the bloodstream by the small intestine in response to ingested foods, particularly fatty ones. GIP binds to cell-surface rec