A recent study conducted at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) revealed that the human body conserves energy for later use by cutting down calorie expenditure. Alan Saltiel, director of the Institute for Diabetes and Metabolic Health at UC San Diego, explains that this is the nature’s way of surviving if a famine occurs.
The researchers at the School of Medicine at UC San Diego were able to identify an enzyme called TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) which plays an important role in controlling the energy expenditure during dieting and obesity.
Saltiel reveals that they have discovered two feedback loops that are intertwined to self-regulate the body. These feedback loops block calorie expenditure during both dieting and obesity. The research was conducted in mouse models. Deletion of the TBK1 from the mouse models led to significant weight loss and restored their energy balance. He further explains that this information has provided much needed breakthrough in developing drugs to inhibit TBK1 and similar enzymes that affect metabolism in a negative way.
Amlexanox is one TBK1 inhibitor which is commonly used to treat Asthma. It is an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory drug that was developed in Japan in 1980s.
In a prior study, Saltiel and his colleagues revealed that inducing TBK1 in obese mouse models led to reduction in energy expenditure. However, giving mice amlexanox led to weight loss and improvement of fatty liver disease and diabetes.
The researchers concluded that both cutting down on calorie intake and blocking TBK1 or other similar enzymes can contribute to weight loss. This explains why diets alone don’t work. The research was recently published in the Cell journal on February 8th, 2018.