Medical researchers at the University of Sheffield have defined the structure of a key part of the human obesity receptor- an essential factor in the regulation of body fat- which could help provide new treatments for the complications of obesity and anorexia.
This major advance in research, published in the journal Structure, will greatly enhance the ability to generate drugs which can both block and stimulate the receptor for the obesity hormone leptin. This could have life-changing effects on people suffering from the complications of obesity and malnutrition.
Researchers have solved the challenging crystal structure of the leptin-binding domain of the obesity receptor using state of the art X-ray crystallography, helping them to work out how to block or stimulate the receptor. Leptin, the obesity hormone, is produced by fat and excess leptin predisposes overweight people to conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and heart disease whilst a deficiency in leptin, as occurs in malnutrition, results in infertility and immunodeficiency.
Blocking the receptor, and therefore the excessive actions of leptin, could prevent the complications of obesity and stimulating the receptor may improve fertility and the immune response.
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