Hummingbird Metabolism will shed light on Human Obesity and Weight Loss

Hummingbird Metabolism will shed light on Human Obesity and Weight Loss

An interesting research proposal which will have great impact in the world of obesity and weight loss if the study succeeds.

SPAIN – The Basque bioscience research center CIC bioGUNE is the only Spanish scientific organization selected in the aid program for research of International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), in its call for 2016. Together with an international research consortium, Spanish scientists will study in the next three years, physiology and metabolism of hummingbirds, which will help identify the metabolic enzymes that makes this tiny bird develop so much energy.

The project, called metabolic flux optimization in the Hummingbird: enzymes to ecology, secured funding of 1,055,000 Euros. The goal is to research the metabolism of hummingbirds, which is very fast and has a great capacity to store and burn fat quickly.  Mikel Valle, a PhD in Molecular Biology and head of the project at CIC bioGUNE, said this bird is a “metabolic athlete”.

The enzymes to be analyzed within the project are central to metabolism and are involved in regulating energy. Its functions are related to the production and burning of fat and sugar. The research can provide interesting data of some metabolic enzymes related to human diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.

The research work at the Basque center will focus on studying the structure of enzymes by cryo-electron microscopy. The study involves freezing samples at very low temperatures, observe them under the microscope and get its 3D structure by computer techniques.

Comparing enzymes hummingbirds with other animals will provide a better understanding of the very special characteristics of the metabolism of this bird, which reaches 70 wing beats per second and is able to perform long-distance migrations, despite its small size (five to six centimeters).

 To secure financing, the project on hummingbird metabolism has competed with 672 other research proposals submitted to the call of the aid program 2016 HFSPO, and has been selected by ranking fifth place.

In the 2016 call, the winning researchers are located in 20 different countries, including 53 laboratories in Europe, 32 in North America, 11 in Asia and the Pacific, as well as research centers in Israel and Panama.

Source: CIC bioGUNE

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