"Over 30,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity in England alone, so there is a clear need to develop a treatment to tackle this problem," says Dr Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust. "Yet this need for effective anti-obesity therapies is currently unmet. We believe that Professor Bloom's research holds great promise and, with our support, can be translated into tangible benefits to health."
Recent research by Professor Bloom and his team identified the role played by gut hormones in appetite control. These hormones are released when a person eats, acting as neurotransmitters to indicate to the brain to stop eating. In particular, the researchers are interested in pancreatic polypeptide (PP), which they believe may provide a solution to appetite suppression and is the most likely candidate for translating into a treatment.
"Developing a treatment based on natural appetite suppression, mimicking our body's response to being full, has the potential to be safe and effective," says Professor Bloom. "We believe that pancreatic polypeptide may be the answer."
Professor Bloom points to research showing that people with benign PP-secreting tumours have elevated levels of the hormone and yet appear to show no adverse side-effects.
"These people may have had high levels of PP for ten or fifteen years without showing side effects," he explains. "In that sense, they have provided us with a natural experiment that suggests that excess levels of PP over a long period are safe. It does not appear to raise blood pressure or heart rate, or any other obvious side effects."
With funding from the Seeding Drug Discovery initiative, Professor Bloom and colleague Dr Caroline Small hope to develop a synthetic form of PP which can be administered to patients.
"The trouble with PP is that it would need to be injected daily and cannot be taken as a pill," says Dr Small. "Naturally, this is not very convenient, so we need to develop an injectable form that is longer lasting and can be administered on a weekly basis to make it more practical."
If successful, the proposed research may lead to a treatment within five to eight years.
"It is likely that if we are successful, the treatment may be fast tracked to meet the urgent demand to tackle the obesity crisis," she explains. "There is currently a lack of effective treatments and our proposed drug is based on a natural way of controlling the body's appetite, which makes it more attractive."
The Wellcome Trust's Seeding Drug Discovery initiative aims to bridge the funding gap in early-stage drug discovery, assisting researchers to take forward projects in small molecule therapeutics that will be the springboard for further R&D by the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.
Craig Brierley | alfa
Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.03.2018 | Event News