"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
Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University
Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering