A team of biologists working at the Scripps Research Institute registered success in identifying a brain hormone that supposedly triggers burning of fat in your guts. The findings have been made in animal models and it is being expected that these will have better implications in pharmaceutical development in near future. Supriya Srinivasan, a TSRI Assistant Professor quotes, “This was basic science that unlocked an interesting mystery.” The studies that were made in this field before this field previously showed that a neurotransmitter called serotonin can easily lead to fat loss in body. But nobody could explain till ate how it does that.
In order to answer this question, Srinivasan and her team did some experiments with roundworms named C. elegans that are mostly used as a model organism under biology. These worms have been blessed with simple digestive frameworks as compared with humans. However, their brains produces similar signaling molecules that compelled the researchers to conclude that roundworms might be closely relevant with human beings.
The team deleted a few genes from C. elegans to note if these could interfere with the path between fat burning and brain serotonin. When they performed similar tests on one gene after the other, they hopes they could find that gene without which fat burning process won’t take place. This led them to the gene that can code for neuropeptide hormone they named as FLP-7. They found that the mammalian version of this hormone, Tachykinin, had been recognized almost eight decades back as a peptide that leads to muscle contractions in pig intestines. The next step was to find if FLP-7 was directly associated with serotonin level inside the brain or not. This part of research was led by a research associate from TSRI, Lavinia Palamiuc who tagged FLP-7 with a fluorescent red protein which could be visualized in alive animals. Her research unveiled the fact that FLP-7 was secreted from brain neurons when serotonin levels rise and it travelled through circulatory system that could initiate the fat burning procedure in gut. It is for the first time that researchers have found a brain hormone that can stimulate fat metabolism in a body without influencing the food intake.
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