Ruijin Hospital doctors say they may have the answer to one of the world's leading obsessions — losing weight.
Doctors at the hospital's endocrinology department have found that a bacterium can reduce the amount of fat in the body, in turn leading to weight loss.
They plan to promote the development of weight loss medicine after research on mice.
Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, an anaerobic microbe, resides in and dominates the human intestinal tract, would be used in the medicine, the doctors said, after finding that the microbe reduced plasma glutamate concentration and alleviated diet-induced body-weight gain and adiposity.
Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron has the effect of metabolizing glutamate, which is believed to be a potential risk of obesity, researchers said.
They also analyzed the change of intestinal flora inside obese patients who received weight loss surgery and found the bacterium inside them increased significantly three months after surgery and returned to normal level, which proved its effect in controlling obesity.
The doctors believe that the recovery of bacteroides thetaiotaomicron can contribute to weight loss.
The research is led by Ning Guang, Wang Weiqing and Hong Jie, three doctors at Ruijin, and is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.
They found the amount of bacteroides thetaiotaomicron inside obese individuals is much less than it is for people of average weight.
The research result was published in Nature Medicine on Monday.
China is witnessing a year-on-year increase of incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases resulting from being overweight, but currently there are few effective medicines to curb obesity and most of them have side effects or weight rebound problems once the patients stop taking the medicines, doctors said.