Obesity is a major health concern worldwide. In the United States alone, around 68% of the population is overweight and more than 33% of the population is obese. Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing a number of serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and even some types of cancer. In many cases diet and exercise alone are unable to correct the problem, thus requiring development of effective pharmaceutical therapies to help treat obesity. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have identified Cyclophilin D as a novel target for the treatment of obesity. Experiments using Cyclpohilin D knockout mice have shown that deletion of this gene prevent the onset of diet induced obesity in mice. These knockout mice display increased metabolic rates, specifically increased rates of fatty acid oxidation and increased heat production, which prevent them from becoming obese on high fat diets. Identification of specific inhibitors of this protein could provide an efficient way to enhance cellular metabolism and promote weight loss, thus helping to reduce the incidence of obesity.
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