Scientists discover brain cells which can banish hunger

Scientists discover brain cells which can be activated to banish hunger and stop people overeating

Flip the switch to lose fat: Scientists discover brain cells which can be activated to banish hunger and stop people overeating

  • Researchers say they’ve found a way to produce the same signal as a meal does
  • Targeting specific brain cells means meds could be specific to reducing appetite
  • The experts hope their findings will help tackle the worldwide obesity crisis

Scientists may have worked out how to flip a switch in the brain to stop people over-eating and getting fat.

Certain cells in the brain could be ‘turned on’ to make someone feel full, banishing their hunger or cravings.

Researchers say they have discovered for the first time which cells need to be stimulated to mimic the effect of eating a meal.

And making people feel full could stop them eating so much, helping them to lose weight or avoid becoming fat or obese in the first place. 

Although drugs already exist to combat obesity, this discovery could make it easier to be more specific when targeting the area of the brain which controls appetite.   

Obesity rates could be reduced by using a drug to activate a part of the brain which produces the hormone which tells the body someone is full and reduces the amount of food they eat

A team led by the University of Aberdeen experimented on mice to see how the appetite could be controlled by targeting specific cells in the brain.

The cells are found in a part of the brain which receives information from the gut about how much food has been eaten.

Researchers say they could ‘turn on’ the cells – called POMC neurons – to produce the same fullness hormone the body would send out after a meal.

  • Vapers who use e-cigarettes every day are almost TWICE as…

    Policewoman, 39, dies after being refused cancer drug on the…

    One patient waited 62 HOURS for an ambulance and four waited…

    Patient is diagnosed with killer MERS virus in Leeds as…

Share this article

This could be used by doctors to tackle obesity, which is a growing problem around the world – 22 per cent of all adults globally are expected to become obese by 2045.

And the scientists say triggering the POMC nerve cells has a ‘significant and rapid impact on feeding behaviour’ – meaning it squashes the desire to eat.

In the study, when scientists activated this area of the brain mice ate less food.

‘Our discovery opens doors to new appetite medications’ 


Research has found how a hormonal problem could be making people obese.

Scientists from the University of California San Diego have managed to explain a condition called leptin resistance for the first time. 

The condition was already known about but not well understood. 

In an experiment on mice the experts found those fed a high fat diet produced an enzyme which damaged hormone receptors in the brain.

As a result, the hormone leptin – which tells the body when a person is full after eating – could not be absorbed, so the signal could not get through.

This means people with leptin resistance may continue to eat more than they need to because their body does not know it’s full.

The scientists say blocking the damaging enzyme – which they could do with medicine – would make the fullness response work properly so people would eat less.

The findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. 

Lead scientist on the study, Professor Lora Heisler said: ‘Our discovery opens the door to new medications that could be developed to control appetite and improve health.

‘In this crucial brain area we found a small group of cells that control appetite.

‘We used new sophisticated techniques that allowed us to turn on these cells with drugs and, by doing this, were able to reduce food intake.

‘What these drugs do is spur POMC neurons into action, which mounts a relay of signals through the brain that let us know we have had enough to eat.’

Drugs could now target specific appetite-controlling brain cells  

Although pills used in the past to restrict appetite worked by controlling levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, this important chemical has other functions in the body that led to unwanted side effects. 

The team in Aberdeen say their discovery could lead to more specific drugs which target only a person’s appetite.

People who are overweight or obese tend to eat more for various reasons.

Reducing appetite could combat obesity and its health risks

One study suggests, for example, that their brains feel less satisfied by food so they need to eat more to feel full.

Being able to shrink someone’s appetite using a medicine to limit how much they eat could help people lose weight, therefore reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The researchers’ findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism. 

Source: Read Full Article