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Millennium and the Whitehead Institute identify novel protein important in fat absorption

Discovery of Potential Target for Improved Obesity Therapeutics Described in the Cover Article of Molecular Cell

Cambridge, Mass., September 24, 1999 -- Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc (Nasdaq: MLNM) and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research today announced the discovery of a novel protein involved in fat absorption. Data relating to the identification and function of the protein appear in today's issue of the journal Molecular Cell. The protein, FATP4, plays a role in transporting fatty acid molecules from the intestine into the body. Inhibition of the protein's function may provide new approaches to treating obesity.

The data, described in a paper titled "Identification of the major intestinal fatty acid transport protein," were generated collaboratively by scientists at Millennium and in the laboratory of Dr. Harvey F. Lodish at the Whitehead. FATP4 is a member of a family of fatty acid transport proteins and is expressed at high levels in enterocytes, a cell-type found in the intestinal lining. The addition of human FATP4 to cells in which the protein is not normally expressed resulted in a large increase in the uptake of fatty acids. Inhibition of FATP4 with anti-sense oligonucleotides in a mouse enterocyte cell-culture model produced a proportional reduction in the uptake of these fatty acid molecules.

"The transport of fatty acids from the intestines into the body is a key step in the absorption and metabolism of dietary fat and its conversion to body fat," said Lou Tartaglia, Ph.D., senior director of metabolic disease at Millennium. "The identification of the intestinal fatty acid transport protein provides new insight into the molecular and biochemical pathways involved in the transport and utilization of dietary fat," added Tartaglia.

"Previously, our laboratory had identified a novel class of proteins called FATPs, which are associated with fatty acid transport proteins," said Dr. Harvey F. Lodish of t
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Contact: Sally McCraven, Millenium Pharmaceuticals
mccraven@mpi.com
617-577-3548
Noonan/Russo Communications
24-Sep-1999


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