Study Finds Potential for Appetite-Related Drugs

    Researchers at UC Irvine announced Oct. 7 that a fatty acid found in olive oil wards off hunger and could lead to the development of new drugs to limit and possibly even enhance appetite.

    UC Irvine pharmacology professor Daniele Piomelli and his colleagues found that infusing the fat — oleic acid — into the intestines of rodents converted it into a fat messenger called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) that tells the brain the body is full.

    “This OEA activates a receptor protein causing a specific type of satiety,” Piomelli said. “This protein initiates a series of physiological events that lead to activation of nerves in the intestine.”

    He said the long-term goal is to create a drug that slows OEA breakdown in the body, extending the feeling of fullness.
    In addition, adjusting OEA levels could help people with decreased appetite.

    “Our studies identify OEA as a key physiological signal that specifically links dietary fat ingestion to across-meal satiety,” the report states. “Nutritional and pharmacological strategies aimed at magnifying this lipid-sensing mechanism, such as inhibitors of OEA degradation, might be useful in the treatment of obesity and other eating disorders.”

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