Srinivasan and her colleagues experimented with roundworms called C elegans that are often used as model organisms in biology.
Los Angeles: Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have for the first time identified a brain hormone that triggers fat burning in the gut, an advance that could have implications for future drug development. “This was basic science that unlocked an interesting mystery,” said Supriya Srinivasan, assistant professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US.
Previous studies had shown that neurotransmitter serotonin can drive fat loss. Yet no one was sure exactly how. Ms Srinivasan and her colleagues experimented with roundworms called C elegans that are often used as model organisms in biology. These worms have simpler metabolic systems than humans, but their brains produce many of the same signalling molecules, leading researchers to believe that findings in C elegans may be relevant for humans.
Researchers deleted genes in C elegans to see if they may interrupt the path between brain serotonin and fat burning. By testing one gene after another, they hoped to find the gene without which fat burning would not occur. This process of elimination led them to a gene that codes for a neuropeptide hormone they named FLP-7. They found that the mammalian version of FLP-7 (Tachykinin) had been identified 80 years ago as a peptide that triggered muscle contractions when dribbled on pig intestines.