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JANUARY 26, 2010 (Montreal, Canada)
Universite de Montreal research team developing leptin based pill to control hunger.
A Universite de Montreal research team is developing a pill composed of leptin, the protein that tells our brain to stop eating. "Mice deprived of leptin will not stop eating. They become so big they have trouble moving around," says Moise Bendayan, a pathology professor at the Universite de Montreal Faculty of Medicine who has studied the leptin protein extensively.
Postdoctoral student Philippe Cammisotto is leading the charge for a leptin based, appetite suppressing pill with Dr. Bendayan and Emile Levy, a professor from the Department of Nutrition. "Taken orally, such a pill would provide obese people with the sensation of being full. They would eat less and in turn lose weight," says Dr. Cammisotto.
"We hope to start animal testing in 2010," says Bendayan. "The molecule is easy to synthesize and the protocol is ready."
After decades of building his reputation in fundamental research, Bendayan is happy to collaborate on something more tangible. "Obesity is a big problem in our society, no pun intended," says Bendayan. "To develop medication to combat obesity would be a great way for our laboratory to contribute to public health."
The new pill is being created based on a startling Universite de Montreal discovery from 2006: leptin isn't only secreted by fatty tissues. "From the first bite of any meal, leptin levels skyrocket in the bloodstream. Yet this has nothing to do with the leptin stored in the fatty tissues," says Bendayan. "In the lab, we proved that up to 80 percent of cells in our stomach also produce leptin. Those are the ones that regulate appetite."
The Universite de Montreal finding led to a different understanding of how the protein works, since leptin alone can't survive in an acidic stomach without assistance. Indeed, leptin protects itself with an accomplice that acts as its bodyguard and accompanies the protein through the digestive system until it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
About the Universite de Montreal: www.umontreal.ca/english
About the Universite de Montreal Faculty of Medicine: www.med.umontreal.ca
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