Fat burning molecule could help obese people lose weight in future

A ‘fat burning’ molecule which could have positive implications for people who struggle with their weight has been found.

The small mitochondrial uncoupler, named BAM15, has been identified by an American team of researchers.

A series of experiments have found that it not only reduces body fat mass in mice without impacting the amount of food they eat, but it also decreases insulin resistance.

Professor Webster Santos, professor of chemistry and the Cliff and Agnes Lilly Faculty Fellow of Drug Discovery in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, said: “Obesity is the biggest health problem in the United States. But, it is hard for people to lose weight and keep it off; being on a diet can be so difficult. So, a pharmacological approach, or a drug, could help out and would be beneficial for all of society.”

With obesity commonly associated with type 2 diabetes, this newly discovered molecule could have a significant impact on the health of millions of people should the team manage to develop a safe treatment approach.

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However, although the drug has worked successfully in small animals, it is not a full-gone conclusion that BAM15 will be as successful in humans. This is because the length of time that it is effective in mice is not very long. For it to work in people, the time window must be a lot longer.

Professor Santos said: “We are essentially looking for roughly the same type of molecule, but it needs to stay in the body for longer to have an effect. We are tweaking the chemical structure of the compound. So far, we have made several hundred molecules related to this.”

BAM15 has also been found to be hugely effective in reducing oxidative stress, leading to cell and tissue damage, neurodegeneration and aging, which means it could also help treat other health conditions.

Professor Santos added: “If you just minimise aging, you could minimise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. All of these reactive oxygen species-related or inflammation-related diseases could benefit from mitochondrial uncouplers. So, we could see this heading that way.”

The study findings have been published in the Nature Communications journal.

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