Narrator: This is Science Today. A brain protein already known to play a crucial role in the ‘feast or fast” signaling that controls the urge to eat, has also been found to impact the body's baseline regulation of energy balance. Christian Vaisse, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that mutations in the protein – called the melanocortin 4 receptor – disrupts this energy balance.
Vaisse: All this amount of energy has to be directly compensated by an equal amount of food intake and when I say equal, it has be at least as much as you expend, which is necessary for survival. If your input is lower than your expenditure, you'll die. If your intake is a little bit higher, your storage is going to increase, so your fat mass is going to increase and it will lead to obesity.
Narrator: This discovery identifies a potential new target for obesity drugs.
Vaisse: Understanding the genetic make up and understanding what the molecular systems are that they are made of, will eventually help us to find drugs to modulate it.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.