The battle to lose weight and keep it off is a fight millions of Americans face each year. Even if the weight comes off, it’s hard to keep it off and sustain that weight loss over an extended period of time. The answer to consistent and effective weight loss may lie in the discovery of the ghrelin hormone, which scientists have nicknamed the “hungry hormone”.
Ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach and released into the systemic blood circulation, stimulates an increase in appetite. In 1999, Dr. M. Kojima, the director of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory of Kurume University in Japan, discovered ghrelin when studying growth hormones.
Habitual over-eating increases the stomach’s capacity and size, also increasing the number of ghrelin-producing cells. The increase in the number of ghrelin-producing cells drives up ghrelin levels in the blood. Higher ghrelin levels in the blood leads to a bigger appetite in an individual and ultimately to weight gain. The number of ghrelin-producing cells in the stomach is dynamic and normally increases with over-eating over months or years.
When ghrelin-producing cells increase a person’s appetite, they have a tendency to take in extra calories, which translates into weight gain. Appetite is a basic survival mechanism; early humans who did not have ghrelin did not survive. In this time of fast food, convenience meals, and over-indulgence, however, that survival mechanism can work against us.
Callitas Therapeutics is working on C-103, a reformulation of Orlistat, that can help control the hungry hormone, ghrelin. With use, C-103 gradually reduces ghrelin levels, in turn reducing a person’s appetite and helping them keep the weight off.