Scientists at Scripps Research Institute developed a vaccine that allowed rats to eat large quantities of food without getting fat. The vaccine reduces levels of ghrelin, a hormone that regulates the way mammals store fat. Ghrelin was discovered in 1999 and has since been the target of a number of research projects looking for ways to control obesity in humans. In the research project, rats in one group received the vaccine while a control group received inactivated vaccine. Both groups ate the same amount of food but the vaccinated rats weighed 20 percent to 30 percent less at the conclusion of the study. The key surprise in the study was that ghrelin appeared to work by increasing the rats' metabolism rather than regulating their appetite. Researchers attached a protein from a sea mollusk to ghrelin to produce the vaccine, which caused the immune system to attack the naturally produced ghrelin.
Find out more about ghrelin research:
- check out this article from the Los Angeles Times