Researchers have discovered a new enzyme that may help overweight people "feel full" and stop eating.
The team, at Hong Kong Baptist University, discovered the enzyme "that plays an important role in the process of sating appetite", according to the SCMP. They then published their findings in the journal Nature Metabolism.
The team said that drugs could be developed that target the enzyme specifically and may help with weight loss. Dr Xavier Wong and Professor Bian Zhaoxiang were the pair that discovered the MT1-MMP protein.
In China, obesity has caught up to to the US: the SCMP notes that more than half a billion people in the country are overweight and 16.4% are obese. 30% of people in Hong Kong aged 15 to 84 were obese, the report also notes. 20% were overweight.
The enzyme may help people who have trouble regulating their own dietary habits as a result of their losing their sense of satiety. It can also "regulate satiety signals in the brain to help regulate food intake," the report said.
Scientists from the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Texas and the University of Helsinki also played a role on the global research team that discovered the enzyme.
In studies, the doctors created obese mice with depleted MT1-MMP. Their food consumption was 10% less and they gained 50% less weight than a group of control mice. The study also showed that obese mice displayed increased MT1-MMP activity, SCMP reported.
As we noted above, the study comes at a time when obesity rates are on the rise.
“This has to do with eating and physical habits. People are more inactive, live a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise. During the Covid-19 pandemic, people stayed home most of the time," concluded Professor Martin Wong, a non-communicable disease expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.