Researchers discover hunger controlling cells in the brain that could be the future drug target to control obesity


Researchers just discovered a region of the brain that may initiate the food carving during hunger. This region in the brain can be the target in the future to control obesity.

Researchers reveal that eating is a complex biological behaviour linked to cells inside the brain.

Alexander Nectow, in a paper published in the journal Cell, said that the team have identified two new populations of cells in the brain that regulate the appetite.

The area of the brain where these cells are located is called as Dorsal Raphe Nucleus (DRN).

Now, it is thought that new drugs aimed to treat obesity by controlling hunger, could send out signals to these cells.

Researchers discover hunger controlling cells in the brain that could be the future drug target to control obesity


The research was initially carried out in mice by Dr Nectow, an associate research scholar at Princeton University. He added that the DRN section of the brain gets activated in the hungry mice. This was discovered through a technique called iDisco which was used to capture those regions of the brain.



The mice which were given normal food showed a different pattern of the DRN region. In this regard, scientists concluded that neurons in this part played a role in the feeding behaviour.

Scientists drew two possibilities from this DRN behaviour. First, cells are getting activated by hunger but not driving the food intake. Second, the cells are part of sense and response mechanism to hunger. Scientists are more determined on the second possibility.

Further research is needed to ascertain which types of neurons that make up the DRN are involved in the process.

A pioneering research on Obesity did in the 1990s led to the discovery of the effect of Leptin on the appetite. Leptin is a hormone that acts on the hypothalamus area of the brain and represses appetite.

Patients with Leptin deficiency if given an injection of this hormone led to the loss of weight.

It is estimated that about one-fifth of the world’s grown-ups would be obese by 2025, according to a paper published in The Lancet.

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