Scientists have shown that over expression of a specific human protein in the brain of a transgenic mouse leads to overeating and excessive body weight gain.
Led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, the mouse study may be ideal, they say, for testing new obesity controlling drugs and studies of the condition itself.
In today's (Dec. 13) online issue of the International Journal of Obesity, Wanli Smith, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleagues report a link between the protein synphilin-1 and obesity.
The School of Pharmacy researchers are collaborating with University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers to confirm if obese humans also express more synphilin-1 than others. Also, they are seeking collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.
"We have a new functional model that no one has done before," says Smith. She explains that the pathogenesis of obesity is not fully understood by scientists. The mice also displayed some effects on high insulin levels and impaired glucose tolerance. Exploring the role of novel proteins in obesity may provide important insights into its causes and treatments.
The report pinpoints a previously unidentified role for synphilin-1 in controlling body weight. Synphilin-1 is a protein in cell plasma that was earlier shown to have implications with Parkinson's disease symptoms. The University of Maryland team and others demonstrated recently that synphilin-1 may have protection effects in Parkinson's disease models.