In the latest edition of The FASEB Journal, researchers from the Maine Medical Center Research Institute record their discovery of a new protein that is responsible for regulating body fat and bone mass, which they named Sprouty.
The team manipulated how much of this protein was expressed in different groups of mice specially bred to have some human genes. Results showed that the mice with the deleted Sprouty gene had increased body fat and loss of bone mass that are similar to humans with osteoporosis. Bone loss was then reversed by adding more Sprouty protein. The group of mice with excess Sprouty genes were lean and had increased bone mass.
"Our study provides insight into the regulation of bone mass and body fat," said Lucy Liaw, co-author of the study. "Therefore, future application of this knowledge may help treat common conditions such as [osteoporosis] and obesity."
This is promising news, as approximately 8 million women and 2 million men have osteoporosis in the U.S., according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.