Breakthrough in regulating fat metabolism?

Breakthrough in regulating fat metabolism?

A team at Warwick Medical School, led by Prof Victor Zammit, found the enzyme, “Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A” (CPT1), has a switch which is thrown depending on composition and curvature of its cellular membrane.

This is the first time such a mechanism has been described and may possibly be unique, reflecting the importance of this protein to cellular function, according to the ‘Journal of Biological Chemistry’.

CPT1 is the key protein that regulates fatty acid oxidation in the liver and is critical for metabolism. Its activity determines whether individuals suffer from fatty liver in one extreme or ketosis in the other.

Prof Zammit said: “Knowing that the CPT1 enzyme can switch and what controls it will ultimately lead to a better understanding of why some people appear to have a speedy metabolism and others struggle to curb their appetite.

“We are making great inroads to understanding the science behind our metabolism and how at cellular level it changes according to the influence of different factors — be they nutritional or hormonal.”

The importance of this work on clinical practice is that, having discovered the molecular mechanism, it should now be possible to design drugs that flick the switch of CPT1 in one way or the other, depending on the requirements of individual patients and the tissue that needs to be affected.

“This would be a major breakthrough in tackling the obesity crisis we now face,” said Prof Zammit.

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