In a study that is due to be presented at the 249th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) a team of scientists have programmed bacteria in an attempt to create an anti-obesity molecule that could be used to fight the current obesity epidemic.
How do these programmed microbes work?
Researchers at Vanderbilt University altered the genes of a strain of probiotic bacteria so it would make NAPEs (N-acyl-phosphatidylethanolamines).
NAPEs are normally produced in the small intestine after a meal and are quickly converted into N-acyl-ethanolamines (NAEs).
This bacteria was then added to the drinking water of mice who when fed a diet high in fat would normally become obese, develop diabetes and fatty livers.
What were the results of the tests?
The results of the tests showed that those mice who drunk the water containing the programmed bacteria ate less, and therefore had lower body fat percentages, while avoiding diabetes when compared with the mice who did not drink this water.
Over the 8 week study the mice who drank the NAPE water gained 15% less weight, with the mice remaining lighter up to 12 weeks after the treatment had ended.
What is the next step?
The goal of the study was to produce a therapeutic bacteria that could live in the gut for 6 months to a year.
Normally weight loss drugs are taken daily and are often not taken as directed.
As always research is still in its infancy, so despite it’s initially impressive results there is still plenty of work to do before this treatment is made available to the public, if at all.