Scientists have determined that an enzyme in the brain called p70 S6 Kinase 1 or S6K may play a role in preventing weight gain and obesity. The researchers injected rats with special viruses that selectively raise or lower S6K activity and found that an increased S6K activity led to reductions in food intake, in body weight, and in production of peptides [small chains of amino acids]that normally stimulate feeding. The reduction in food intake was such that the animals reduced the average size of meals rather than changed the number of daily meals, indicating that the animals were sated faster and therefore ate less at every meal.
Additionally, when animals on a high-fat diet were given the S6K-enhancing virus, they overate less and gained weight more slowly than control animals.
These results suggest S6K-regulating drugs may be a promising lead to control obesity and other human metabolic disorders.