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The scientists said the protein -- FGFBP3 (BP3 for short) -- might offer a new way to treat obesity as well as conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Forced production of the protein boosted metabolism that led to large amounts of fat loss in obese laboratory mice genetically altered to eat all the time.
"We found that eight BP3 treatments over 18 days was enough to reduce the fat in obese mice by over a third," said study senior investigator Dr. Anton Wellstein, a professor of oncology and pharmacology at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C.
The treatments with the protein also eliminated the fat in the once fatty livers of the mice and reduced the number of obesity-related disorders, such as hyperglycemia -- excess blood sugar associated diabetes.
There were no harmful side effects, according to the study that was published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.
The researchers noted that because BP3 is a natural protein and not an artificial drug, human clinical trials of the protein could begin after a final round of preclinical studies.
Study findings involving animals frequently fail to produce similar results in humans, however.
Obesity affects more than 650 million people worldwide, the researchers said in a university news release.
-- Robert Preidt
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