Enzyme could be key to controlling obesity

Researchers at UC Berkeley have zeroed in on an enzyme that plays a key role regulating metabolism and weight in mice and say a drug that inhibits this target could do the same for people. The scientists disabled the enzyme in mice and found that they were able to remain lean and healthy while subsisting on a high-fat diet.

"We have discovered a new enzyme within fat cells that is a key regulator of fat metabolism and body weight, making it a promising target in the search for a treatment for human obesity," said Hei Sook Sul, UC Berkeley professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology and principal investigator of the research.

Adipose-specific phospholipase A2 (AdPLA) is only found in fat tissue and regulates metabolism, sending a signal that prevents the breakdown in fat. After knocking it out of one group of mice, the researchers watched as that group and another group of normal mice were treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet. By the end of their life span, the knock-out mice weighed an average of 39.1 grams, compared to 73.7 grams for the obese normal set.

- check out the press release