Description: The human gut naturally contains a large mass of microorganisms that collectively perform critical functions, such as degradation of otherwise indigestible components of our diet. The mechanisms that suppress host inflammatory responses to these living cultures within our GI tract are not well understood – the presence of minute amounts of the same microorganisms in blood, for instance, would trigger an overwhelming and fatal septic response.
Dr. Roth’s group has made the discovery that certain gut microorganisms release potent melanocortin-like peptides that, at low picomolar concentrations, act on host receptors to suppress components of the host’s innate immune system, perhaps explaining our tolerance to their presence in the GI tract. Dr. Roth’s research shows that these peptides have life-sparing beneficial effects in animal models of colitis, lethal endotoxemia, and sepsis. Significantly, these peptides are efficacious when administered up to 24 hrs after septic insult, suggesting that they may have utility in the real world clinical setting. Finally, like native melanocortin hormones, these peptides also exert effects on the hypothalamus to suppress appetite and food consumption through decreasing the size of meals.
Area of Application: Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases – therapeutic peptide.
Obesity – natural dietary supplements to dampen food intake and induce weight loss; probiotics.
Lead Investigator: Jesse Roth, MD, FACP
Patent Info: US Patent No. 8,080,632, Issued December 20, 2011
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