New Research On Appetite-Suppressing Bacteria Could Help Fight Obesity

Scientists already know that different kinds of gut bacteria — those microbes inside our GI tracts that don’t share our DNA yet are oh-so-integral to our health — play crucial roles in breaking down our food, producing some vitamins and keeping harmful microbes at bay. For people struggling with excess weight and obesity, there is even more exciting emerging research on how gut bacteria may play a role in helping maintain our weight.

And in that same vein, one researcher may have found a way to engineer a gut bacterium that helps suppress hunger pangs.

Sean Davies of Vanderbilt University presented some tantalizing research Mar. 22 at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society conference in Denver, Colorado. Davies explained that he was able to engineer bacteria that releases a lipid responsible for feelings of satiety, or fullness. The programmed bacteria, which he tested in obese mice, could one day point to a microbial, low-maintenance strategy for helping people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, he explained by email in advance of the presentation.

Davies first fed his mice a high-fat diet for three months, causing them to become obese. Then he administered the engineered bacteria, which secreted chemicals called N-acyl-phosphatidylethanolamines (NAPEs) that are then converted into lipids that suppressed hunger in mice. After six weeks on the treatment, the mice who were given the NAPE-secreting bacteria stopped gaining weight, but the two control groups (mice who got no bacteria and mice who got bacteria that didn’t secrete NAPE) continued to pack on the ounces.

“This shows that our strategy is not necessarily limited to prevention of obesity, but might be useful even to treat obesity,” said Davies.

Another important detail about Davies’ experiment is that he also created a safeguard for certain —> Read More