NRI scientist cracks protein code


Bharat Shimpukade, an Indian-origin scientist from University of Southern Denmark, along with his colleagues has come up with a smart tool that has brought the hunt for a pill against obesity one step closer.

Obesity Tummy

Their research is focused on a special protein that can stimulate different physiological activities such as the production of appetite controlling hormones and hormones that control the intestinal uptake of food.

This protein, called FFA4, is found in the cell membranes in intestines, immune cells and in fat. It is activated by long-chain free fatty acids released from the food such as Omega-3 fatty acids.

When this happens, it releases hormones that inhibit our appetite and increase sugar uptake from the blood.

“In some people, this protein is not activated and they have a much higher risk of becoming obese,” Shimpukade noted.

“We want to find a way to activate this protein because that may help us to develop a drug against obesity or diabetes,” said Shimpukade, a co-author on the paper along with scientists from University of Glasgow.

Molecules can activate proteins so the job is “just” to find the right molecule.

Researchers have developed a computer model of FFA4 that can help them select correct molecules for synthesis by first testing if they bind in the computer model.

“This way we can test thousands of molecules in a very short time before going into the laboratory. This will speed up the process of finding the right compounds that can be developed to efficient drugs against obesity or diabetes”, Shimpukade concluded.

The findings were published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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