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The Life Works Community Blog

New Possibilities for Treating Anorexia and Obesity

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eating disorder researchNew research could help treat the diseases related to anorexia and obesity. Researchers at the University of Sheffield have made a key breakthrough in helping treat obesity and anorexia-related diseases. These scientists have successfully mapped the leptin-binding portion of the obesity receptor which is an essential factor in regulating body fat.

Leptin is a hormone produced naturally by the body when it ingests fat. Too much and it can lead to multiple sclerosis, cancer and heart disease, too little can cause infertility, immunodeficiency and other problems.


By mapping the receptor, scientists can begin to design drugs to block, regulate or even stimulate leptin production. This could alleviate the symptoms of some eating disorders and help speed recovery.

“This pioneering research gives us the potential to generate new drugs that could treat conditions and diseases associated with obesity,” says Richard Ross, professor of endocrinology.

“Modulating the actions of the obesity receptor provides a novel approach to the treatment of conditions associated with both obesity and anorexia and has the potential to make a massive difference to millions of people whose quality of life and health is hindered by obesity or malnutrition.”

Overall, Leptin is involved in moderating appetite, but it is also tied to fertility and immunity. That means this new research could produce a host of treatments for other diseases.

Pete Artymiuk, a professor in the molecular biology and biotechnology department said, “Because we now know the precise atomic structure of the receptor we can begin to design drug molecules that can alter its activity. This can be useful in the treatment of a variety of diseases ranging from obesity to autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis.”

While there is still a great deal of work to be done, researchers are excited by the new possibilities. Controlling leptin may make it easier for people undergoing treatment for eating disorders by easing symptoms and helping to prevent some of the worse side effects of ED. Leptin control could even increase the quality of life for those who have a long term disordered relationship with food.

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