An interesting study describing the development and testing of a molecule first identified in obese laboratory animals and humans, which appears to play a role in modulating the brain-gut axis in a way to prevent further weight gain. The scientists at the pharmaceutical company Amgen modified the molecule so it stays in the circulation longer and demonstrated in mice that it results in a decrease in the drive for high density foods, slowing of the emptying of the stomach, and significant weight loss.
Interestingly, the observed effects were similar to what is observed after so-called bariatric surgeries, which is currently the only effective, long lasting therapy for morbid obesity. In their studies, the investigator demonstrated effects of the molecule on brain regions involved in the processing of gut signals, such as the site in the brain where the vagus nerve ends. Should these initial findings observed in laboratory mice be confirmed in human studies, it would be a major step forward in the development of effective treatments for obesity.
But we must not forget that the human brain is a very different “animal” than the tiny mouse brain. The dopamine driven reward system that drives our food intake is an incredibly powerful system which might override any attempts to curb its appetite!