A simple hormone could be the answer for millions of people worldwide suffering from obesity. An international team of scientists claim to have discovered a gut hormone that could significantly decrease the appetite, reducing the amount of food eaten in a day by a third.
The research, published this week in science journal Nature, reports how scientists from ImperialCollege London, in the UK, together with Oregon Health and Sciences University in the US and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia, discovered thenovel action of hormone PYY3-36.
PYY3-36 is normally released from the gastro-intestinal tract after eating,in proportion to the calorific meal content, to inform the brain that the body is no longer hungry.
When a group of volunteers received artificial infusions ofthe hormone at normal post-feeding concentrations, their food intake wasreduced by a third for a day.
Professor Stephen Bloom, from Imperial College London at the HammersmithHospital, commented: "The discovery that PYY3-36 suppresses appetite couldbe of huge benefit to those struggling with weight problems. With over abillion people across the world now extremely overweight, it is vital thisproblem is tackled.
"It may be possible to identify foods which cause the release of morePYY3-36, helping to naturally limit appetite, or it may be possible tocreate a tablet with a similar effect, providing an excellent, natural andsafe long term treatment for obesity."
In order to test if PYY3-36 is effective, twelve volunteers were infused with eitherPYY3-36 or saline for ninety minutes in a double blind randomised crossovertrial at Hammersmith Hospital, London. Two hours later, the volunteers wereoffered an unlimited buffet meal.
In the group receiving PYY3-36, average calorific intake dropped by a thirdover the next 24 hours.
The researchers also looked at how hungry the test group felt both duringand after transfusions of the hormone. The group receiving PYY3-36 reportedup to a 40 per cent drop in perceived levels of hunger over a period oftwelve hours after infusion.
Dr Rachel Batterham from Imperial College London at the HammersmithHospital added: "The results show the hormone PYY3-36 could help in tacklingthe problem of obesity. Rather than using extreme measures such as dietingpills, or even surgery, PYY3-36 should be able to provide a far safer andeffective alternative."
Full findings are published in Nature,Issue 418, Volume 6898, Pages 650-654.