They were wrong.
Introducing: obestatin, a newly discovered hormone that suppresses appetite.
The finding, to be published in the Nov. 11 issue of Science, offers a key to researchers developing treatments for obesity. In a nation that desperately needs to slim down - the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 65 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese - obestatin is likely to generate interest from scientists and drugmakers alike.
The research was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, LLC, which has certain license rights to the discovery.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine uncovered obestatin by using the principles of evolution to pick clues from data held in the Human Genome Project, as well as the genome sequencing projects for many other organisms, among them, yeast, fruit flies and mice.
"Darwin led us to this new hormone," said senior author Aaron Hsueh, PhD, an endocrinologist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Jian V. Zhang, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in Hsueh's laboratory, is the lead author.
Drugmakers could use new insights into weight regulation. The discovery of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin in 1994 and the appetite-boosting hormone ghrelin in 1999 offered high hopes of more effective drugs. And in the past few years, the influence of melanocortin hormones on regulating leptin has become clearer. But these insights have yet to yield a treatment for obesity.
"There are several known pathways that regulate body weight: ghrelin, leptin and melanocortin," explained Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, a Stanford professor of genetics who studies melanocortin, and was not involved in the obestatin project. "Th
Contact: Rosanne Spector
Stanford University Medical Center