A new breakthrough by a team of researchers at the Institute for Basic Research in Korea may lead to a breakthrough in obesity management. It’s dense, intense science, but the gist of it is, you may someday be able to lose weight while eating all you want…
We haven’t seen our Obesity Poster Girl for a while. But she’s sill out there.
And there are millions more like her. The work of the IBS team
may, in future, allow even her to lose weight…
The Institute for Basic Research (IBS) is a Korean Government supported educational establishment that tackles major issues at the level of, well, basic science.
“The Institute for Basic Science (IBS) pursues excellence in basic science research,” the Institute’s vision statement declares. “The goal of IBS is to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to train the leading scientists of tomorrow.”
So you shouldn’t be surprised that its discovery concerning weight regulation in the human body is couched in ‘lab’ language…
What they did
The team, under the supervision of ISB Director C. Justin Lee, engaged in mouse-level studies to explore the possibilities of controlling obesity by ‘chemogenic’ methods. That is, by administering specific drugs.
They wanted to see how the brain regulates fat storage and metabolism, and discover the mechanisms involved.
What they found
The team tracked down the site they were looking for to a cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a very small part of the brain, located deep in the thinking organ’s core. And it actually controls a number of important, fundamental functions.
Healthline offers a detailed explanation of how the hypothalamus works, and the crucial functions it controls:
- releasing hormones
- maintaining daily physiological cycles
- controlling appetite
- managing sexual behavior
- regulating emotional responses
- regulating body temperature
And, thanks to the team at IBS, we now know it also regulates weight gain and loss.
The specific control centre, the team says, is a cluster of neural signal receptors called GABRA5. When the cluster is inhibited, your body wants to store fat. When it is activated, your body wants to burn energy, either powering muscles or producing heat. At least what’s what the mouse experiments showed.
And, as we all know, mice are used in basic medical experimentation because – as dissimilar to humans as they outwardly appear – they are very similar in a number of functional ways. So, what works for mice often also works for humans.
To put it as succinctly as possible: The IBS discovery may mean that weight gain can be controlled by a drug that already exists, called KDS2010. And under that regime, we’d all be able to eat as much as we want of whatever we want.
But Lee cautions that a lot more research must first be done.
This comes as close to a so-called ‘Magic Bullet’ as I’ve yet seen in the War on Obesity. And, as cautionary and skeptical as I have always been about ‘Magic Bullets’, I can’t help but harbour the hope that it will prove to be just that!
~ Maggie J.