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Interview

Advancing the fight against obesity

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At Helmholtz Munich, metabolic expert Matthias Tschöp is researching gastrointestinal hormones and their effect on the brain. The new anti-obesity drugs that Matthias Tschöp and his team are working on could be approved this year.

Matthias Tschöp, Scientific Director at Helmholtz Munich. (Bild: Helmholtz Munich / Matthias Tunger)

Mr. Tschöp, you are an expert on the effect of the hunger hormone ghrelin in the body. What function does the neurotransmitter perform there?

Ghrelin is actually the only signal that circulates in our blood and induces a feeling of hunger by acting on the brain. The hormone is released in greater quantities when we have not eaten food for a long time and the levels drop after each meal. 

You have discovered that ghrelin is significantly involved in the development of obesity. What specifically happens in the organism of those affected?

In addition to triggering hunger, ghrelin inhibits calorie burning and thus increases fat stores.

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