Tackling Obesity and Metabolic Disease

Obesity is a significant risk factor for the development of chronic disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Current treatments are ineffective, given the worldwide increase in obesity rates to current epidemic proportions. The need for additional treatment options is critical.

Joeva Barrow, Nutrition Sciences, is developing molecular treatments for obesity and associated metabolic disease. Barrow is taking advantage of the thermogenic brown and beige fat biology that, when targeted, can increase energy expenditure and confer protection against obesity through the action of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1).

The mechanisms of this process are not completely understood. Unveiling novel pathways and regulatory factors that can activate this process will maximize treatment options for individuals suffering from these diseases.

The Barrow lab has discovered a protein known as Nipsnap1 that may have the ability to increase energy expenditure and could therefore be targeted for the treatment of obesity and metabolic disease. Nipsnap1 is evolutionarily conserved across species, yet a clear functional annotation remains to be assigned. Preliminary data show that Nipsnap1 exhibits a strong thermogenic profile and dramatically alters UCP1 protein levels. Barrow is identifying the molecular function of Nipsnap1 in thermogenic adipose tissue. This will enable the hypothesis that Nipsnap1 plays a significant role in thermogenesis to be tested.

These studies are the first to characterize the molecular function as well as the metabolomic-linked network of Nipsnap1 in thermogenic adipose tissue. The research will determine if Nipsnap1 can be leveraged toward a treatment for obesity and associated metabolic disorders.

NIH Award Number: 1R21DK122258-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$566 Thousand spanning 3 years