Peptide YY Therapy for Obesity

Obesity is a debilitating disease reaching pandemic proportions in developed countries. Several hormones are involved in regulating feeding and energy, including peptide YY (PYY), an appetite regulatory hormone. PYY is released from the gut in response to a meal, relaying signals to the brain to prevent further eating. Several research studies, including work by Suraj Unniappan, have shown that PYY causes inhibition of feeding when administered at pharmacological doses in experimental models. However, the body very rapidly clears PYY from the system, and continuous delivery of PYY results in desensitization against the peptide. This prevents prolonged and consistent effects of PYY on feeding and weight loss. Suraj’s preliminary results indicate that a fat cell-derived hormone, leptin, enhances and prolongs the appetite regulating effects of PYY. In this research, he is working to develop a combination therapy for obesity using PYY and leptin. Next, he proposes to develop a cell-based therapy for obesity using cells that, when activated by a drug, will synthesize PYY and release it in a meal-responsive manner. If this research is found to be effective in reducing food intake and promoting weight loss, it could be beneficial for treating obesity and its debilitating complications.