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Targeting a hunger hormone with a biological “homing missile” is showing promising results in the “battle of the bulge”.
Tests have shown that the antibody catalyst GHR-11E11 seeks out and destroys the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite and may lead to obesity.
Studies have shown that levels of ghrelin rise before meals and fall afterwards. Mice that lack the hormone or do not respond to it are resistant to obesity.
The antibodies induces chemical reactions in the body, increase the metabolic rate of fasting mice and suppressed their desire to feed.
Research leader Professor Kim Janda, from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, said: “Our study showed that this novel catalytic ghrelin antibody could specifically seek out and degrade ghrelin.
“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 behaviour.
“These findings not only validate antibody-based therapeutics but strongly suggest that catalytic antighrelin antibodies might help patients reach and maintain their weight-loss goals.”
The findings are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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