weight loss

UF researchers are making strides toward reducing obesity by stimulating the brain.

The College of Medicine conducted research on the role of the central nervous system in relationship to metabolism that can trigger fat loss, said UF professor Philip Scarpace, who headed the research lab. Scientists at the UF Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics published a study Monday with information on potential methods to combat obesity in the future.

“This (study) is demonstrating that you can maintain body weight that has first been lost with a diet by just increasing metabolism,” Scarpace said.

In the study, researchers treated one group of rats with a drug called Melanotan II, which caused the animals to suppress their appetite, and compared it to a control group, Scarpace said. Throughout the study, as the treated rats’ appetite grew, they managed to maintain lesser weight than the untreated rats.

“The goal would be to develop a similar type of drug that does the same things, but which can be given orally and does not have any side effects,” Scarpace said.

Isabelle Côté, a postdoctoral associate in the lab, said the research is limited because the translation between the administration of the drug to rats and that to humans isn’t comparable, which is still under review.

“(We) found it interesting that the food intake was back to normal for the animals as they were before but they maintained their weight loss,” she said.