Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers said they have discovered that mice given a chemical that blocks the function of an enzyme known as Fyn kinase nearly immediately begin burning body fat.
"When there is an imbalance between what we eat and what we burn, the outcome is obesity," said Assistant Professor Claire Bastie, who led the study. "This is a new mechanism to help the body to burn extra energy."
Bastie's team earlier showed obese mice lacking Fyn kinase altogether burn more fatty acids and expend more energy to become leaner. The mice also show other metabolic improvements, including increased insulin sensitivity due to higher levels of activated protein kinase in their fat and muscle tissue.
The scientists said their more recent findings suggest the enzyme might offer a useful target for a new kind of weight loss drug.
The study, which included researchers Eijiro Yamada, Jeffrey Pessin, Irwin Kurland, Gary Schwartz and Claire Bastie, appears in the journal Cell Metabolism.