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How to lose weight and not go hungry: HU researcher develops drug that mimics feeling of ‘fullness’

Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Yaniv Linde in his lab.

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Jerusalem, June 6, 2007 — Millions of people the world over suffer today from obesity, yet there is no “magic bullet” that has yet provided a universally accepted solution. However, a young researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem feels he has come up with a practical weight loss solution for the obese person without his having to feel hungry.

For this development, Yaniv Linde, a 32-year-old Ph.D. student of Prof. Chaim Gilon in the Department of Organic Chemistry at the Hebrew University, has been named a first place winner of a Kaye Innovation Award, which was presented today (June 6) during the 70th meeting of the Hebrew University Board of Governors.

Linde and his associates have developed a compound that mimics the activity of the naturally occurring hormone called aMSH. This hormone is naturally excreted during eating and binds to a receptor in the brain called MC4R. When this “communication” occurs on a substantial level, the brain sends out a signal that one feels “full.”

The young Hebrew university researchers developed a novel method for synthesizing a peptide (a peptide is a compound linking two or more amino acids) which can serve as an analog to the naturally occurring aMSH hormone. They were able to demonstrate that their peptide, which they call BL-3020, displayed good metabolic stability to intestinal enzymes when swallowed, and that it was able to cross the intestinal wall and gain access into the blood stream. Once in the blood, it could make its way to the MC4R receptor and “close the circuit” to send out the “full” signal.

The result is that a person seriously wishing to overcome obesity could take this compound orally in order to curb his appetite, thus leading to natural weight loss. In experiments with mice, it was shown that a single oral administration of BL-3020 led to reduced consumption over a period of 24 hours. Over a 12-day period of daily dosages, the mice weighed 40 percent less than the average for mice of their size and age who were not being given the compound.

The peptide has been patented in Europe and the U.S., and a commercial firm, Bioline RX Ltd. of Jerusalem has purchased development rights from Yissum, the Hebrew University’s technology transfer company, and is currently working towards creating a commercial anti-obesity drug.

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The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff, and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential which will benefit the university and society.

For further information:
Jerry Barach, Dept. of Media Relations, the Hebrew University, Tel: 02-588-2904, or Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University spokesperson, Tel: 02-5882910 or 052-260-8016.
Internet site: http://media.huji.ac.il.

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June 7, 2007 Posted by | Enzymes, Global, Global Health Vision, Global News, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, News, News Australia, News Canada, News Israel, News Jerusalem, News UK, News US, Obesity, Research, Washington DC, World News | Leave a comment

Researchers Create Model of Cancer-Preventing Enzyme, Study How It Works

May 11 2007

Contact: Katherine Kostiuk
Sr. Information Specialist
573-882-3346
KostiukK@missouri.edu

Proline dehydrogenase is important because it plays a role in apoptosis, the process of cell death, by enabling the creation of superoxide, a highly reactive electron-rich oxygen species. Superoxide is involved in the destruction of damaged cells and therefore is important in preventing the development and spread of cancer. The protein proline dehydrogenase “opens up to allow oxygen to ‘steal’ electrons” and create a superoxide, said Tommi A. White, an MU doctoral student in biochemistry.

White worked with John J. Tanner, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in MU’s College of Arts and Science, and Navasona Krishnan, a doctoral student at the Unviersity of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Donald F. Becker, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to create the first model of proline dehydrogenase. Because the human form of this enzyme is difficult to work with, the team studied proline dehydrogenase from the bacteria Thermus thermophilus. They used bioinformatics and biochemical studies to show that this enzyme is functionally similar to the human version, so their results can be generalized to the human version, as well as the bacterial version.

Using X-ray crystallography and biochemical analysis, the team created a model of proline dehydrogenase that can tell scientists more about the molecule’s structure and functions.

“The three-dimensional model tells us a lot about the structure of the molecules and helps us understand how they work,” Tanner said. “This protein is important in cancer prevention because it enables the creation of superoxide, which aid in cell death. Cells aren’t meant to live forever, and at some point, they need to die and be destroyed. Cells that are damaged or diseased are usually destroyed in this process. Our structure tells us how oxygen gets access to electrons stored in the enzyme. We think we’ve identified a gate that opens to let oxygen into the enzyme where the electrons are stored.”

In this way, proline dehydrogenase is important in preventing cancer. White said it’s unusual for proline dehydrogenase to be involved in such a process because the usual job of this type of enzyme is to transfer electrons to the mitochondrial membrane, not allow them to be attached to oxygen to create highly reactive superoxides.

Tanner and White said they hope to continue to study proline dehydrogenase and the molecules that can inactivate it. They also plan to examine another protein they suspect works in collaboration with proline dehydrogenase to understand how that protein affects the cancer-preventing abilities of proline dehydrogenase.
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On the Net:
University of Missouri
http://www.chem.missouri.edu/

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May 11, 2007 Posted by | Cancer, Clinical Trials, DNA, Enzymes, Genetics, Global, Global Health Vision, Global News, Human Genome, News, Uncategorized, University of Missouri, Washington DC | Leave a comment