• Peptide Potential for Managing Obesity-related Conditions

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Peptide Potential for Managing Obesity-related Conditions

Mar 16 2023

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have investigated a naturally occurring peptide (small protein) called PEPITEM as a potential approach to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases such as hepatic steatosis (fatty liver).

Using an animal model of obesity the research team, led by Dr Helen McGettrick and Dr Asif Iqbal from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing and Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, delivered the peptide by a slow-release pump to see if it could prevent or reverse the effects that a high fat diet has on the pancreas.  Excitingly, the results showed that its administration significantly reduced the enlargement of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and also significantly reduced immune cell migration into various tissues. 

Dr McGettrick said: “We have found a new therapeutic approach that could provide new drugs to tackle the root cause of obesity-related conditions by preventing the damage caused by systemic inflammation.

The peptide was first identified in 2015 by Birmingham researchers who described its role in the adiponectin-PEPITEM pathway, which is involved in controlling the onset and severity of auto-immune and chronic inflammatory diseases. 

This latest study shows that the adiponectin-PEPITEM pathway also connects obesity, the low-level inflammatory response that is driven by it, and changes in the pancreas that precede diabetes. 

Dr Iqbal commented: “Until now we have understood very little about how the inflammation that accompanies obesity drives pathology.  These results show us that PEPITEM can both prevent and reverse the impact that obesity has on metabolism.  The next stage is to translate these exciting results into therapeutics that can be used in humans.”

Professor Ed Rainger from Birmingham’s Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences led the team that first identified PEPITEM.  He commented: “We are all very excited about these latest results.  PEPITEM is a naturally occurring peptide.  We have already shown it has effects on several organs and now for the first time, we have shown that PEPITEM is effective in a model of a disease process that is not driven by the immune system alone.”  

University of Birmingham Enterprise had already filed patent applications covering PEPITEM compositions and therapeutic uses and has now filed a further application covering its use in the use in the prophylaxis or treatment of obesity-associated inflammatory conditions including chronic low-grade systemic inflammation and pancreatic beta-cell damage. The study was published in Clinical and Experimental Immunology

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