Baltimore- Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found what it appears to be an on/off switch for appetite in the brain. Thanks to studies made in mouse brains, the researchers may have found a cure for overeating

Morbid Obesity and Overweight numbers are heavily increasing from to year to year. According to the state of obesity website, in September 2015 three states including Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi exceeded the rates of obesity in a 35 percent scale.

In theory, if we really understand what’s occurring here we might be able to deliberately target this mechanism with drugs that could control appetite. Credit: Independent

22 states have rates over 30 percent, 45 states are above 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent in obesity rates. This means that more than a third of American adults (34.9 percent)  were obese as of 2011 to 2012 and could still be within the rates.

The increasing numbers of obesity-related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes have become a nationwide issue. The research team at Johns Hopkins in the looks of stimulating enzymes related to eating habits found what it appears to be, an enzyme that could result in further obesity treatments.

O-GIcNAc or OGT was the enzyme that, Dr. Olof Lagerlöf from Hopkins University School of Medicine, suppressed in the brain of a mice lab. Normally, mice do not overeat they tend to balance their caloric intake with their caloric needs.

When the OGT enzyme was suppressed in the mouse hypothalamus, the animals began to overeat and rapidly gained weight. Eating more at meal times, rather than eating more often, the animals tripled their body fat in just three weeks.

The study confirms that the brain is able to regulate feeding by responding to dietary factors and metabolic signals from peripheral organs.

It is yet to be proven, how the brain interprets these signals. However, OGT is able to catalyze the posttranslational modifications of proteins by the enzyme and is regulated by nutrient access.

“In turn, that suggests that these cells are responsible for sending the message to stop eating” Said Ph.D. Richard Huganir, Director of the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The team in their discovering genetically manipulated the cells in the mouse hypothalamus and added a blue light-sensitive protein to their membranes. When stimulating the cells with a beam of blue light, the cells fired and sent signals to other parts of the brain, resulting in the mouse decreasing the amount they ate in a day, in a 25 percent lower rate.

The study finally concluded that if their findings bear out in other animals it could lead to advances in the search for drugs or other means of controlling appetites in people. The research was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Source: Hopkins Medicine