Obesity is widely accepted to pose one of the greatest public health challenges we currently face. Already it is responsible for up to 8% of health costs and 10–13% of deaths throughout Europe – and these figures are likely to increase significantly in the coming years if the rising incidence of the disease continues unchecked.
In order to effectively tackle the problem of obesity, we need to better understand the biology that underlies the control of food intake and bodyweight. We hope that EurOCHIP will go some way to achieving this goal, thereby having an impact on the development of effective new strategies to prevent and treat obesity.
The past decade has seen tremendous progress in our understanding of homeostatic regulators controlling energy balance. Insights from human and murine genetics have illuminated multiple pathways within the hypothalamus, brainstem and higher brain regions that play a key role in the control of food intake, while physiological studies focusing on the gastrointestinal tract have revealed a panoply of hormones that are secreted in response to or in anticipation of food intake. EurOCHIP brings together world leaders specializing in both areas in order to explore the interaction between the periphery and the brain in the control of energy homeostasis.
Specifically, our research objectives are:
- To identify novel effector systems in the hypothalamus and brainstem which are regulated by gut peptides and involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis;
- To examine the response of brain areas involved in higher cognitive and affective functions to gut peptides;
- To determine if genetic variation in molecules involved in the brain response to gut peptides affect appetitive behaviour and predispose to childhood obesity;
- To modulate the gut peptide milieu in humans, either by administration of exogenous gut peptides or through dietary intervention, to determine if they are potential therapeutic targets.
In order to address these aims, we divide our programme of research into four major interacting work packages:
Work Package 1 – protected
Partners: UCAM, ICL, Inserm, UNIK and DifE
Work Package 2 – protected
Partners: UCAM, ICL, UNIK, UGOT
Work Package 3 – protected
Partners: CNRS, UCAM
Work Package 4 – protected
Partners: ICL, UCAM