IUPUI biologist Nick Berbari will use a $1.75 million National Institutes of Health grant to look into the link between obesity and brain cell components called cilia. The hairlike protrusions are believed to work like antennae for communication between cells.
Berbari and his research team hope to learn about therapeutic techniques to obesity that affects over 93 million Americans.
"With hunger, there is an initial urge to eat and to continue eating until feeling full," Berbari said. "Cilia dysfunction is known to be associated with certain types of obesity, but it is unclear why their dysfunction leads to people overeating and results in obesity." "Put simply, we will be looking at how a little cellular antenna in the brain is important for appetite. When we study rare syndromes that are associated with obesity, we might learn important information and gain potentially therapeutically advantageous ideas about how to treat obesity in the general population."
The research involves mice and will determine how adjusted signaling processes affect appetite, eating behavior and obesity. The Centers for Disease Control reports obesity caused an annual medical cost of $147 billion in the U.S. in 2008.