A team of Spanish researchers from the National Center for Cardiovascular Research Carlos III (CNIC), in collaboration with scientists from the University Hospital of Salamanca, the Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CiMUS) in Santiago de Compostela and the University of Extremadura, has discovered a protein that can help curb obesity and reduce overweight.
The study, which has been published in Nature Communications, shows that removing a protein in obese mice stops the progression of this condition and promotes weight loss. Therefore, this advance has much potential to become a new therapeutic target by which to combat this disease.
Obesity has become an epidemic that is increasingly affecting more people, especially in developed countries. It is currently estimated that more than 2.2 billion patients worldwide are overweight, which is why they are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer, as well as other negative consequences related to overweight.
For this reason, scientists have been working for years on treatments that help combat and curb obesity. Now, the team of Spanish researchers, led by Dras. Guadalupe Sabio and Nuria Matesanz, has shown that the MKK6 protein has the ability to control the transformation of white fat into brown fat.
You may not know it, but not all fat cells or adipocytes are the same. White fat is the one that accumulates in deposits of excess energy, whereas brown adipocytes are the ones that the body uses to maintain body temperature, so they burn quickly.
What scientists discovered in Spain is that the MKK6 protein prevents the transformation of white fat into brown fat. In tests with mouse models they were able to show that by removing MKK6 from the rodent organism, white adipocytes became brown with greater ease, helping them to reduce their weight. Therefore, this protein could become a therapeutic target to fight against obesity.