Scientists from University of Montreal are developing an appetite suppressing pill composed of leptin, the protein that tells the brain to stop eating.
Leptin regulates appetite in mammals and its levels decrease when fasting and rise during meals.
It has been proven to be an appetite suppressant when administered intravenously to pathologically obese people.
"Taken orally, such a pill would provide obese people with the sensation of being full. They would eat less and in turn lose weight," said postdoctoral student Philippe Cammisotto.
"We hope to start animal testing in 2010. The molecule is easy to synthesize and the protocol is ready,” added Moise Bendayan, a pathology professor at the Universite de Montreal Faculty of Medicine.
The new pill is being created based on a startling Université de Montréal discovery from 2006: leptin isn't only secreted by fatty tissues.
"From the first bite of any meal, leptin levels skyrocket in the bloodstream. Yet this has nothing to do with the leptin stored in the fatty tissues," says Bendayan.
"In the lab, we proved that up to 80 percent of cells in our stomach also produce leptin. Those are the ones that regulate appetite," Bendayan added.