Scripps Research team finds new obesity target

A team of investigators at the Scripps Research Institute say they've identified a catalytic antibody that works against ghrelin, a gastric hormone that plays a key role in fat storage and weight gain. The scientists say that the antibody could offer a new tool to fight obesity by targeting the biologic mechanisms that trigger weight gain.

"Our study showed that this novel catalytic ghrelin antibody could specifically seek out and degrade ghrelin," said Kim Janda, director of the Worm Institute of Research and Medicine at Scripps Research. "While this antibody lacks a high level of catalytic efficiency, our study clearly demonstrates that even a basal level of catalysis can effectively modulate feeding behavior. These findings not only validate antibody-based therapeutics, but strongly suggest that catalytic anti-ghrelin antibodies might help patients reach and maintain their weight loss goals."

The new study is being published online the week of October 27, 2008, in an advance early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

- read the Scripps release