Researchers identify and block protein that interferes with appetite-suppressing hormone

Ever since the appetite-regulation hormone called leptin was discovered in 1994, scientists have sought to understand the mechanisms that control its action. It was known that leptin was made by fat cells, reduced appetite and interacted with insulin , but the precise molecular details of its function — details that might enable the creation of a new treatment for obesity — remained elusive.

Now, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have revealed a significant part of one of those mechanisms, identifying a protein that can interfere with the brain’s response to leptin. They’ve also created a compound that blocks the protein’s action — a potential forerunner to an anti-obesity drug.