Protein discovery could treat obesity, diabetes

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Researchers, led by Suresh Alahari, PhD, Fred Brazda Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, have brought the fight against obesity and diabetes to the cellular level with a study outlining the potential of the Nischarin protein.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the study found the Nischarin protein was able to change metabolism in mice. Previous research found the protein acted as a tumor suppressor. Researchers further evaluated Nischarin's effects when interacting with the AMPK gene responsible for metabolic stability.

When bound to AMPK, Nischarin inhibits its activity and led to a decrease in the activation of genes in charge of producing glucose. Nischarin also interacted with the gene for regulating glucose uptake, lowering the level of blood glucose levels in mice and improving glucose and insulin tolerance. Genes involved in fat metabolism and the buildup of fat were also affected, giving the mice an increase in energy and appetite suppression. These factors combined led to a decrease in food intake and weight reduction in mice.

"These studies demonstrate the potential of Nischarin as a regulator of metabolic diseases and suggest suppression of Nischarin function may be a valuable approach in the quest to cure such diseases as diabetes and obesity," wrote Alahari.