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Struggling to Stop Eating? There Might Be a New Pill for That

One News Page Staff Sunday, 2 September 2018
Struggling to Stop Eating? There Might Be a New Pill for Thatby 👩‍💻 Stephanie Boyd

Obesity remains one of the biggest crises facing humanity right now – with growing concerns that children are still being marketed to for high-sugar foodstuffs and drinks alike, there are also valid concerns that many adults simply aren't able to effectively control their hunger impulses. Certainly, stress and other factors can lead to comfort eating or similar behaviors – and while willpower and resolution can work wonders for some dieters, for other people, obesity can be an ongoing battle which is extremely difficult to see a resolution to.

Artificial Intelligence Used Satellites To Spot Obesity
Artificial Intelligence Used Satellites To Spot Obesity

Ongoing research into what could be preventing a feeling of fullness in many people appears to have led scientists to MMP2, which is an enzyme responsible for a variety of bodily functions – but which is also responsible, it seems, for attacking the brain’s ability to understand when we no longer need to eat. A study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests that MMP2 effectively prevents leptin receptors from signalling to the body that it no longer requires food. Following testing on mice, overweight participants were found to possess greater quantities of MMP2 in their brain tissue than others – and that, following further tests, mice engineered to produce no MMP2 whatsoever gained considerably less weight on controlled diets.

This news could be very big indeed for researchers and bodies looking into strategies for preventing obesity worldwide. Those taking part in the study are keen to propose the potential for further research into how MMP2 affects leptin receptors in the brain, and the potential for a new drug or pill to be created that could directly inhibit MMP2 from being produced at all. There are already drugs which can reduce the enzyme – but not as a primary, or perhaps even intentional motive.

It’s also being suggested that MMP2 may also hold the key to the link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes – if, for example, it is also found responsible for damage done to receptors advising the body on insulin levels. It is very early days in research and development – but the study’s exciting findings could signal genuine steps forward towards the goal of understanding human hunger receptors and how we can effectively push obesity back to a full stop. Can we expect to see effective hunger suppressant pills hitting the shelves in the next decade? It’s a possibility – as research and interest keeps growing.

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