Scientists from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., found that raising production of the protein caused obese mice to reduce the amount of fat in their bodies even though they were genetically engineered to overeat.
They did this by increasing expression of the protein’s associated gene.
In a paper on their work that now appears in the journal Scientific Reports, the authors describe how fibroblast growth factor binding protein 3 (FGFBP3, or BP3), “modulates fat and glucose metabolism in mouse models of metabolic syndrome.”
“We found,” says senior study author Anton Wellstein, who is a professor of oncology and pharmacology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, “that eight BP3 treatments over 18 days [were] enough to reduce the fat in obese mice by over a third.”
Other conditions linked to obesity were also reduced. The animals’ excessive levels of blood sugar — a hallmark of diabetes known as hyperglycemia — fell, and their livers, which had been fatty, lost their fat.
The researchers note that because BP3 occurs naturally in the body, therapies based on it would not have to undergo the same lengthy testing as drugs based on synthetic compounds. Clinical trials using the human equivalent could start straight after the conclusion of preclinical studies, explain the authors.
Therapies based on BP3 could also have the advantage of minimal, if any, unwanted side effects; the investigators found none in the treated mice, even when they examined their tissues under a microscope.