Researchers have now identified a signaling pathway in the brain, which has been found a crucial role in regulating food intake. Furthermore, this pathway linked to the development of diabetes and cancer could pave way for novel weight loss methods in obese individuals. Scientists from UC's Genome Research Institute demonstrated that the signaling pathway mTOR--activated by nutrient and hormonal signals--plays a role in the brain's ability to sense how much energy the body has available. This finding, the researchers say, suggests that very specific micronutrients may drive these pathways in the brain and could lead to a more scientific approach to diet design to help regulate body weight. The study, led by Randy Seeley, PhD, professor in UC's psychiatry department, appears in the May 12, 2006 issue of the journal Science. Ingesting calories (energy in the form of nutrients) has two purposes, says Dr. Seeley. 'We take in calories to maintain levels of stored fuel (energy) and adequate available fuel,' he says. 'The signals that tell our brain about both the stored and the available energy in our body can activate the mTOR pathway in key parts of the brain that control appetite.' Knowing that mTOR basically serves as a 'check-point' for sensing energy changes, the researchers predicted that it could be manipulated to alter food intake. The mTOR pathway is very sensitive to 'branched-chain' amino acids, particularly leucine, Dr. Seeley explains. In laboratory studies, he and his team found that when they administered leucine directly to the hypothalamus, a brain region that controls a number of metabolic processes, animals ate less. Other, similar amino acids did not give the same results. This animal study, says Dr. Seeley, could eventually have implications for human obesity. 'Rather than basing our diets only on macronutrients like fat or carbohydrates, we might one day be designing diets based on micronutrients like amino acids,' he says. But, Dr. Seeley adds, that certainly doesn't mean people should 'run out and add more leucine to their diets.' 'We still have a lot to learn about how these nutrients would act if simply ingested with other nutrients, in what form they could be most effective, and even if they are effective at all when not administered directly to the brain,' he says. << Racial Identity Dictates What We See Or Rather Whom We See C-Myc Gene Essential for Immune System Function >> Recommended Reading Bulimia Nervosa The term ''Bulimia'' refers to episodes of uncontrolled excessive eating, known as "binges," followed by self-induced vomiting or purgation. READ MORE Decreased Appetite Symptom Evaluation A loss of appetite deprives an individual of essential nutrients and results in weight loss. READ MORE Diet Pills Diet pills are flooding the market by millions. The positive side of diet pills to most people is that they achieve their objective of losing weight. Medical reviews are against the use of diet pills. READ MORE Hungry? - But you Just Ate! Most of us are tempted by good food, mealtime or not. Once in a way is fine but it is dangerous to give into food cravings all the time. READ MORE Increased Appetite Symptom Evaluation An increase in appetite is seen in conditions like bulimia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and worm infestation. READ MORE The Cabbage Diet The plausible reason that can be sited is the inherent low calorie property of cabbage. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Blood - Sugar Chart Drug Side Effects Calculator Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants More News on: Diet PillsThe Cabbage DietBulimia NervosaThe Macrobiotic DietHeight and Weight-KidsDecreased Appetite Symptom EvaluationIncreased Appetite Symptom EvaluationHungry? - But you Just Ate!