Local scientists announce possible breakthrough in fight against obesity

Local scientists announce breakthrough which offers new opportunities for the development of an anti-obesity drug.

Local scientists have announced a breakthrough which offers new opportunities for the development of an anti-obesity drug.

The findings were made by scientists from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in their study of the neuropeptide Y (NPY) Y1 receptor (Y1R).

Obesity is a major public health concern with more than 10 percent of the population suffering from it globally. Every year, millions of people die from related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The scientists' latest result, published online today in top scientific journal Nature, determined the structure of Y1R, which is the receptor of NPY, a highly abundant neuropeptide in the central nervous system. 

NPY is present in a variety of physiological functions, including appetite, energy homeostasis and vascular construction.

It is also the most powerful stimulant of food intake, which is mainly driven by its receptor (Y1R). Y1R plays a key role in the development of drugs for various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression and anxiety.

“The Y1R structures and our functional studies help us understand how this receptor binds to different types of ligands with molecular details. This can enable the development of new anti-obesity drugs with better selectivity and efficacy,” Dr. Beili Wu, a team leader and SIMM professor said.

Wu and her team worked on the findings in collaboration with several domestic and overseas research groups, which will expand the understanding of NPY receptor signal transduction. 

The findings also lay the foundation for structure-based drug discovery targeting this physiologically important receptor.

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