Researchers may have found a way to treat obesity with leptin—the appetite-suppressant once hailed, then dismissed, as a cure to America’s bulging belly. An area of brain cells seemingly stressed by obesity allowed the obese to build up resistance to leptin, Reuters reports, but by injecting drugs to reduce that stress in fat mice, a Harvard team unlocked leptin’s weight-loss powers again.
Once those drugs—traditionally used to treat cystic fibrosis and liver disease—drop the brain’s stress levels, leptin can be injected to curb appetite. With successful human trials, the treatment could curb the world’s 1.8 billion strong obesity epidemic. Weight-loss drugs currently available have limited effectiveness and, often, strong side effects. “We hope it will work,” the lead researcher says.