Obesity is considered as a highly prevalent disease and yet the most neglected problem worldwide. Obesity kills approximately 2.8 million people each year. It strongly increases the risk of developing several diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart diseases. In Pakistan, westernization of diet has raised the number of overweight and obese people throughout the country.
Obesity is treated by a number of ways which include both medical and surgical methods. Lifestyle modification and medications can help achieve modest weight loss but most of the people regain their weight. Bariatric surgery is considered as a last resort due to its complications. No matter how many weight loss tips Zubaida Apa gives you, the truth is, at this point there aren’t any miraculous supplements that would give you any long term weight loss benefits. However, scientists throughout the world are conducting exciting research for people struggling with excess weight or obesity.
So the question arises, how does a bacterium become the good guy in fighting obesity?
A group of scientists, led by Sean Davies, at the Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, USA, have come up with a promising idea of developing a probiotic to treat obesity and other chronic diseases like diabetes. They have discovered how gut bacteria may play a role in maintaining our weight. The research was originally published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The Scientists started off by feeding their mice a high-fat diet for three months causing them to become obese. Then they administered a genetically engineered strain of E. Coli bacteria into the mice. The bacteria were genetically modified to release the chemical NAPE (N-acyl-phosphatidylethanolamine). NAPEs then converted into lipids which suppressed the hunger in mice and produced feeling of satiety or fullness.
Six weeks after the treatment, the mice which were given NAPE-secreting bacteria had dramatically stopped gaining weight whereas the control group (mice who were not given modified bacteria) continued to pack on the ounces. Even twelve weeks after the modified bacteria were eliminated; the treated mice still had a much lower body weight and body fat as compared to the control mice.
The study suggests that over the years, it may become possible to genetically manipulate the bacteria in human intestines to treat obesity and other chronic diseases in human beings. By engineering the gut bacteria, the scientists have raised hope to create sustained weight loss for very long periods of time, with relatively infrequent booster doses of bacteria.
Ahead of weight loss therapy, intestinal bacteria’s impending therapeutic applications are being discovered in anxiety, autism, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and schizophrenia.
It’s amazing to realize that science of future can cure diseases with bacteria. Our best wishes are with Dr. Davies and his research group in their astonishing research work. Not only such discoveries exemplify the hidden beauty of scientific research but also remind us of the Quranic verses which persuade us to ponder over every creature of the Universe – living and non-living alike. Here is a beautiful verse from Surah Al Imran:
“And reflect on the creations of Heavens and Earth, (and say): Our Lord! You have not created them in vain!”
Undeniably, no creature in this entire universe is useless, vain or worthless of consideration – not even a tiny bacterium!