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A new target for obesity
April 2019
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JUPITER, Fla.—Recent research out of Scripps Research has pinpointed a group of neurons that could play a role in obesity. The work was led by neuroscientist Dr. Baoji Xu, who explained that “The bottom line is that we identified a new population of neurons, that when activated, suppress appetite and increase energy expenditure.” Xu and his team found neurons in the brain that express the receptor TrkB, a signaling target for the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is involved in energy balance. Some mutations in genes that express TrkB and BDNF are linked to extreme obesity. Additionally, the team also looked at the dorsomedial hypothalamus, which is where leptin binds to suppress appetite and which plays a role in energy expenditure. Xu noted that neurons in the dorsomedial hypothalamus that express TrkB could potentially be a drug target for treating obesity.

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