Researchers reveal that activation of a receptor has the potential to shut off hunger, thus could be used effective in treating obesity, according to a new study published on April 18, 2018.
An international team of researchers from the chemistry and pharmacology department of Vanderbilt University uncovered the potential to beat obesity at the cellular level.
Pharmaceutical companies have long attempted to develop a small-molecule drug with the capacity to combat obesity. The team of scientists found that neuropeptide Y receptor has the potential to beat obesity when activated. Furthermore, until now, nobody knew exactly what the receptor looked like.
The team deciphered thousands of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and other atoms involved in the crystal structure for a neuropeptide Y receptor, and studied how they bind to other receptors alike.
“This is a very important milestone in the drug discovery process. The big contribution of this paper is to list the atoms with all the specific coordinates of where they sitting in space and where they are bound to each other. We’ve actually found where there are little pockets in the structure where we can build a small molecule to bind. Before, it was like trying to design a key without knowing the shape of the keyhole.” Said Jens Meiler, lead author of the study.
Past research conducted on mice and found that when these receptors were blocked from functioning in mice, they become obese.
“Once you eat, you produce this peptide, it activates the receptor, and then you don’t feel hungry anymore and you stop eating. The idea here is that we could upregulate this receptor with a small molecule and create this feeling of not being hungry so that you eat less.” Meiler said.
The research, if further trialed on humans successfully, has the potential to help several patients around the globe tackle obesity.