If you love French fries, burgers or deep-fried snacks, you had better read on.
A group of researchers has shown that eating fatty foods may make you want to munch even more. In the study, rats that tasted fat in their food kept on eating, thanks to endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are the body’s equivalent of cannabinoids, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are reportedly released in the brain and body.
Rats on a fat diet registered an increase in endocannabinoid activity, thus demonstrating a link to binge-eating. When given compounds that blocked the cellular 'buttons' triggered by the endocannabinoids, the rats stopped eating immediately. According to the lead researcher in this study, the findings may prove pivotal in assisting scientists to develop drugs that can combat binge-eating and similar weight-related conditions.
SynaTate™ is an online application that annotates and interrogates data to identify structural and functional motifs in query sequences with patterns stored in SynaBASE™, MGRC's proprietary database. The analysis of the cannabinoid receptor 1 gene (endocannabinoid receptor) using SynaTate™ revealed that it has a potentially active region on the third forward reading frame. This frame encodes for the melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor which produces the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). MSH is found in the brain and has been shown to have an effect on appetite. The findings open up the possibility of developing drugs that block the metabolism of intestinal endocannabinoids to treat binge-eating, obesity and other eating disorders.
Subsequently, the gene was compared against the SwissProt database using SynaCompare™. The comparison showed that the conserved region is the same in both rat and mouse, thus making the latter a suitable model for expression studies of the cannabinoid receptor 1 gene. This is especially useful as mice are cheaper and easier to obtain, and are ideal for genetic research.