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Identifying Drugs to Manage Obesity in Cats

Obesity in cats has reached epidemic proportions: An estimated 20 to 48 percent of owned cats are now overweight. Obese cats are more likely to develop health problems, such as diabetes, skin conditions, heart disease and severe lameness.

With a grant from Morris Animal Foundation, researchers at Auburn University investigated whether they could use drugs to act on two protein molecules in the brain, known as melanocortin-3 and melanocortin-4 receptors, to treat obesity in cats. They hypothesized that drugs targeting the melanocortin-3 receptor may decrease fat storage, whereas drugs acting on the melanocortin-4 receptor may decrease food intake and increase energy expenditure, resulting in decreased body weight. They successfully identified the sequences of these molecules and identified several drug compounds that bind to these protein molecules in a laboratory setting.

These results will allow researchers to manipulate melatonin protein molecules in the brain that could help manage obesity in cats. The next step is to move this research into the clinical setting. This study also allowed a veterinary student to assist with the research which led her to enroll in the school as a veterinary graduate student.

The principal investigator for this study was Dr. Ya-Xiong Tao at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Posted by MAF on July 23, 2012.

Categories: Animal health, Cat health, Obesity


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