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Fighting fat

22 Oct, 2013

Scientists may have a new weapon in the fat fight after developing a compound that prevents rats on a high-fat, high-sugar diet from becoming obese. It reduced body weight in obese rats by approximately 10%.

This research was conducted by scientists at the University of Queensland and University of Southern Queensland in Australia. Lead researcher Professor David Fairlie from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience says the study provides strong evidence that drugs designed to treat inflammatory diseases may also be able to prevent and treat obesity.

Obesity – an inflammatory disease

“The clear need for new treatments, combined with the hypothesis that obesity is actually an inflammatory disease, prompted us to study one of our anti-inflammatory compounds for its capacity to prevent and treat obesity in rats.”

The researchers examined abdominal fat from overweight and obese rats and humans and found an unusually high amount of an inflammatory protein called PAR2.

Compound blocks inflammation

When a compound, which binds to PAR2 and blocks inflammation, was administered orally to rats fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet, the rats did not put on weight, preventing many of the detrimental effects associated with obesity. They are now evaluating compounds from this class further to determine their suitability for future human clinical trials in obesity and other inflammatory disease indications.

“Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, limb amputation and cancers. This finding has opened up a new avenue of exploration for anti-obesity treatments just when we need them most.”

PAR2 – new biomarker for obesity

In summary, the researchers wrote in their published paper, “PAR2 is a new biomarker for obesity and its expression is stimulated by dietary fatty acids; PAR2 is a substantial contributor to inflammatory and metabolic dysfunction; and a PAR2 antagonist inhibits diet-induced obesity and inflammatory, metabolic and cardiovascular dysfunction.”

The findings were published online ahead of print on 20 August 2013 in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

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