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Manipulation of key protein holds potential for development of drugs to fight obesity and diabetes

UT Southwestern researchers (from left) Dr. Kevin Williams, Dr. Philipp Scherer, and Dr. Tiemin Liu determined in a recent study that manipulation of the protein Xbp1s in the brain holds potential for development of drugs to fight obesity and diabetes. Not pictured is Dr. Joel Elmquist, another study author.

July 24, 2014 – A protein that controls when genes are switched on or off plays a key role in specific areas of the brain to regulate metabolism, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found.

The research potentially could lead to new therapies to treat obesity and diabetes, since the transcription factor involved – spliced X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1s) – appears to influence the body’s sensitivity to insulin and leptin signaling. Insulin and leptin are hormones central to the body’s regulation of food intake and sugar disposal, and obesity and diabetes are conditions under which the body develops resistance to their actions.