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Active ingredient for the treatment of obesity and its complications
More and more people worldwide are overweight and obese. In Germany alone, around seven million patients are treated for obesity each year. Austrian researchers have now developed a new active ingredient against obesity.
Being overweight is a health hazard
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight. Germany is also getting fatter. This can be dangerous: In addition to the psychosocial effects of obesity (obesity), its secondary diseases in particular lead to a severe restriction in quality and duration of life. Around 75 percent of obese people worldwide suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver, and 400 million have type II diabetes. Austrian scientists have now developed an active ingredient that can reduce obesity and prevent its complications.
Reduce obesity and prevent diabetes
Researchers from the Karl-Franzens-University Graz and the Technical University (TU) Graz have developed an active ingredient that reduces obesity and can prevent type II diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver.
The research results of the working groups of Rudolf Zechner and Robert Zimmermann from the University of Graz and Rolf Breinbauer from the Graz University of Technology have now been published in the specialist journal "Nature Communications".
As explained in a statement from the universities, an elevated level of fatty acids in the blood is one of the main reasons for the development of metabolic diseases that are associated with obesity.
These lipids are released from the stored fat in adipose tissue through the activity of an enzyme called adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL).
Increased influx of fatty acids into tissue
“In the case of overweight, excess fatty acids released into the blood prevent the absorption of glucose in the muscle and fat tissue. So-called insulin resistance develops, a precursor to type II diabetes, ”explained Martina Schweiger, first and corresponding author of the publication.
In addition, there is an increased influx of fatty acids into tissue, the primary function of which is not the storage of lipids - for example in the liver. Due to the accumulation of triglycerides in this organ, its function is disturbed, the consequence is a non-alcoholic fatty liver.
"Since the ATGL determines the amount of fatty acids released into the blood, we decided to inhibit this enzyme in order to treat the metabolic consequences of being overweight," said Schweiger.
The formation of non-alcoholic fatty liver is completely prevented
The work groups of Zimmermann and Breinbauer already succeeded in synthesizing a molecule called Atglistatin in 2013, which prevents the activity of ATGL. In the new study, the researchers now characterized the effect of this inhibitor atglistatin in an animal model.
“By switching off the ATGL, we were able to completely prevent insulin resistance and the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver. There was also a weight loss despite high-fat food, ”said Schweiger.
The decisive factor was the realization that ATGL should not be completely prevented. “If ATGL is completely inhibited, this also leads to an improvement in obesity and insulin resistance, but the heart becomes fat, which can be fatal,” says the researcher.
A temporary inhibition has no harmful side effects. “By taking the active ingredient atglistatin, the enzyme is turned off for six hours. After this time, the body naturally breaks down the inhibitor. After that, ATGL resumes its work, ”said Schweiger. (ad)