Jeff Scientists Make Further Inroads in Isolating Causes of Obesity
Researchers from the division of endocrinology and metabolic
disease at Jefferson Medical College have come one step closer to identifying
the causes of obesity.
Robert V. Considine, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, has discovered
that the leptin receptor - the site in the brain receiving the message carried
by leptin, the obesity hormone - is the same in both obese and lean people.
Dr. Considine and colleague Jerzy W. Kolaczynski, MD, PhD, previously found
that leptin levels are elevated in obese individuals; this latest study
suggests that a defect in how the leptin signal is processed may hold the
secret to obesity. The researchers' findings were published in July's Diabetes.
"We still don't know the molecular basis of human obesity, but leptin
may play a primary role. We know that leptin resistance occurs in those
who are obese, but do not yet understand why," says Dr. Kolaczynski.
"Preliminary trials using leptin to control appetite will be conducted
and should answer this question."
The results of this study point scientists in the direction of further research
into the central signaling mechanisms in the brain that regulate body fat,
says Dr. Considine. He warns those waiting for a magic bullet, however,
that "no single drug or hormone is going to be the solution for obesity.
The causes of obesity are genetic and environmental. All therapies will
be in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise."