Obesity is one of the endemic epidemics of our century. Although there is beginning to be a growing social awareness about this pathology, considered for a long time a more aesthetic than health issue, its prevalence continues to increase over the years. According to WHO data, it affects more than 650 million adults and 340 million children worldwide. In Spain, 22% of the population suffers from this chronic disease which, in turn, triggers others: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.
The majority of the world’s population lives in countries where being overweightand obesity take more lives than underweight. That is why in the field of research, the search for a more effective pharmacological treatment than diets or surgical interventions is increasing. The challenge is that you would have to get into the minds of these patients, literally. More specifically, in a brain area: the hypothalamus.
This is precisely the objective of the NeurObesity group of the Singular Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases, in which professionals from the University of Santiago de Compostela participate. Now, this team has published a paper in the specialized journal Nature Metabolism detailing a pharmacological method to reverse obesityacting on this brain area.


The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain.When it works normally, it controls hunger, thirst, body temperature, pain, and when it’s time to wake up and go to sleep. Therefore, finding a mechanism to access it was essential for the investigation. Is the problem

It is one of the brain’s best-walled structures .
”It’s a real safe. In addition, any molecule that wants to reach the brain has to cross a sophisticated transport system: the blood-brain barrier.Lopez explains. “This structure not only acts as a toll, but also regulates the entry of medicines,” says the expert.
However, the authors of this work have found a way to cross that barrier: to use extracellular vesicles , natural nanoparticles small enough to reach the brain, but large enough that they can be used to transport certain other molecules that act as a drug.
What they have achieved is to reverse obesity in very obese mice . Despite continuing to consume a high-fat diet, the animals lost weight. How is it possible
Because the group has transported, through the nanoparticles, versions of a modified gene that, when expressed, inhibits the action of the AMPK protein [responsible for regulating metabolism, among other things]. ”When activated it makes you eat more and when it is inhibited it makes you spend more energy. This strategy allows it to be inhibited in a small group of cells and, in this way, more fat is burned,” explains Lopez.
So far, NeurObesity scientists have successfully tested this approach in animal models (mice), offering a promising horizon for possible clinical use in humans. However, it is important to remember that you still have to go through several phases(including clinical trials) before it can be made available to patients.

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