Juli Bai, Ph.D. Interviewed for UT Health San Antonio’s Online Newsroom
Increasing brain protein could be a treatment for obesity
Drug target that revs up energy expenditure, reduces appetite identified
SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 20, 2023) — A drug that promotes energy expenditure in the body while suppressing appetite could be a powerful weight loss therapy. Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University-China and Baylor College of Medicine reported a possible drug target Jan. 2 in the journal Nature Metabolism.
Juli Bai, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of pharmacology and cell systems and anatomy at UT Health San Antonio, is a co-first author on the study, which found that a protein called Grb10 (growth factor receptor-bound protein 10) stimulates leptin signaling. Leptin, a hormone derived from adipose (fatlike) tissue, is essential in the brain, where it signals our bodies to maintain healthy energy balance by reducing food intake and raising energy expenditure.
This study is the first to show that Grb10 is a positive regulator of leptin signaling, Bai said. “We think this finding is very important for that reason,” she said.
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