OBESITY is widely associated with a plethora of serious health issues, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that >36.5% of Americans are classed as obese. Although various avenues of treatment have been, and are currently being, explored, researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium have now isolated a protein shown to suppress the development of obesity and associated diabetes in murine models.
Spanning the previous 10 years, Prof Patrice Cani, WELBIO Researcher, The Louvain Drug Research Institute, University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Prof Willem de Vos, University of Wageningen, Wageningen, Netherlands, and associated research teams have studied Akkermansia muciniphila, a mucin-degrading bacterium constituent of the gut microbiota mucus layer, finally isolated in 2013. Levels were observed to be significantly lower in obese rodents, leading the team to administer Akkermansia-based treatment to mice, reversing the effects of several metabolic disorders.
Following their success, Akkermansia was produced and administered for human clinical trial commencing in December 2015 at the Saint-Luc clinics at the University of Louvain and found to be safe for use. Inadvertently, the teams also noted an increase in efficacy with pasteurisation. “Unexpectedly, we discovered that pasteurisation of A. muciniphila enhanced its capacity to reduce fat mass development, insulin resistance, and dyslipidaemia in mice.” explained Prof Cani and team.
To decrease the risk of administration-induced adverse events, inactivation and stabilisation of the bacterium without an effect on its properties was established through pasteurisation; a method shown to leave only the protein components of a bacterium. Surprisingly, researchers found this method to double its efficacy and enable its prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes mellitus in mice. In order to study this mechanism, researchers isolated and genetically engineered a particular protein component of the outer membrane, termed Amuc_1100, and tested its capabilities within rodents. Data demonstrated that this protein was just as effective at stopping diabetes and obesity development as pasteurised Akkermansia, reflecting promising results in the preventative treatment of both in humans.