Quenching the Hungry Hormone

The discovery of ghrelin—”the hungry hormone”—may help fight the battle of bulge

Fighting Weight Gain

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.

Facts About Ghrelin
It is a hormone that is produced in the stomach, and released into the systemic bloodstream, to stimulate appetite
It is a survival mechanism and is produced by the stomach, autonomous and independent of any other factors
It is a hormone and stimulates appetite in the appetite center of the brain, the hypothalamus, to induce feeding behavior

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.

GHRELIN GRAPH: To Simulate Appetite in the Hypothalamus

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.