Thursday, August 23, 2012

Enzyme modification helps burn fat three times faster

Obesity is a growing problem in the western world. The percentage of people that are overweight is increasing at an alarming rate, and so are the concurring diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Much research is devoted to combating this problem, and scientists at the University of Copenhagen have found a molecular trick to make you burn fat much faster. In fact, the speed at which body fat is burned can be tripled.

Key to this finding are the so-called lipases, enzymes that devote their time to the break-down of fat. In order to burn as much fat as possible, these enzymes would have to be active, but they are normally not as active as we would like them to be. At the University of Copenhagen, the scientists discovered that lipases have the equivalent of an on-off switch. It is not the first time an enzyme switch has been discovered for fat burning, but the Copenhagen researchers found a way to actually modify it.

Normally, the lipases are active around 15 percent of the time, which is not much. During an experimental procedure, the scientists were able to up the activity to 45 percent, which is a three-fold increase. That means the body can burn way more fat, which means that losing weight would be easier if the lipases are put in overdrive. In addition to fighting obesity, increasing lipase activity could also help in treating a variety of diseases.

Being able to modify key enzymes involved with the break-down of fat is promising. As said, it was already known that such switches exist, but being able to modify them to do what you want is incredibly hard. Of course, the scientists will still need to prove it actually works in humans, as they used an experimental model for their enzyme modification. Additionally, the researchers think such on-off switches may actually be quite common, paving the way for more research regarding this matter. Because there is a great variety in enzyme function, there seem to be many possibilities.

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