A new discovery from researchers at McMaster University could be a major breakthrough in battling obesity and diabetes.
The team is hoping its discovery can lead to a pill or patch that would turn up the body’s “metabolic furnace” and burn more calories, said Gregory Steinberg, professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote school of medicine.
Their findings were published Monday in Nature Medicine. The study details how the Mac researchers identified an important hormone that is elevated in obese people and contributes to obesity and diabetes by inhibiting brown fat activity.
Brown adipose tissue, widely known as brown fat, is located around the collarbone and acts as the body’s furnace to burn calories. Obese people have less of it. McMaster researchers have discovered that a lesser known peripheral serotonin that circulates in the blood reduces brown fat activity or “dials down” the body’s metabolism.
Steinberg, the paper’s co-author and also co-director of MAC-Obesity, the Metabolism and Childhood Obesity Research Program at McMaster, said the “results are quite striking.”
Steinberg said tests on mice showed a 25 per cent drop in body weight, without any change in diet or increased exercise. It may be the closest thing to a magic weight loss pill yet found. He said at first the results “seemed too good to be true.”
“We are very excited,” he said. “By reducing the production of this serotonin, it increases your metabolism.”
Steinberg said the serotonin “acts like the parking brake on your brown fat” and slows down metabolism.