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UTSA Researchers Develop New Protein Blocker to Tackle Obesity

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Published on : Jul 11, 2019

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, four out of ten adult Americans are obese. Interestingly, in the last two decades, the obese population has nearly tripled in states such as Texas. The association warns that if stakeholders do not take appropriate measures, obesity will certainly lead to more complex disorders such as hypertension and stroke.

Researchers at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA) conducted a study to tackle the rising incidence of obesity. To find a solution, the university is launching a research to develop a new tool. Also, the university has received funding for the same. 

The researchers have developed an approach that inhibits human protein activity, which contributes to the production of bad cholesterol. Assistant Professor Francis Yoshimoto, at the department of chemistry, is in charge of the study. He is trying to develop and test the working of a protein blocker against P450 8B1 – an enzyme cytochrome. In previous studies, researchers discovered that mice, who lack the particular gene that produces this protein are at a lower risk getting stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. Also, they show resistance to weight gain.

Cytochrome P450 Enzymes is the Culprit 

The enzyme cytochrome P450 is commonly found across all living beings including plants. Shockingly, humans possess 57 such P450 enzymes and its activity is primarily associated with obesity. Scientists are now trying to shut down the workings of P450 8B1 b introducing pyridine in the substrate backbone. As a result, this will lead to inhibition of the iron active site of the cytochrome.

Professor Yoshimoto has a pending patent approval for this new approach. Further. the approach takes inspiration from previous work on inhibiting prostate cancer using a derivative of progesterone called abiraterone. The medical research on fighting obesity, led by Yoshimoto, received a funding of US$450,000 from Max and Minnie Tomerlin Volker Fund.