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Monash researchers discover how two hormones work together on the brain to stimulate the burning of body fat

Prof Tony Tiganis, Monash University

Prof Tony Tiganis, Monash University

By shedding light on the action of two naturally-occurring hormones, Monash University scientists and their collaborators may have discovered a way to assist in the shedding of excess fat.

The researchers have unravelled a molecular mechanism that depends on the combined action of two hormones—leptin, an appetite suppressant generated in fat cells, and insulin, produced in the pancreas in response to rising levels of glucose in the blood. Their paper, published in the journal Cell today, shows that the two hormones act in concert on a group of neurons in the brain to stimulate the burning of body fat via the nervous system.

Their findings may lead to more effective ways of losing weight and preventing obesity by promoting the conversion of white fat to brown fat.

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Starting 1 January 2015, leaders available for interviews now

Celebrating the power of light to transform society:

  • From the Nobel Prize to your hardware store – the LED lighting revolution
  • The laser, an invention with no practical applications that now powers the internet, is printing jet engines, searching for space junk, and treating cancer
  • Solar lights empowering refugees, solar cells cheaper than coal.

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By blocking a widespread enzyme, Centenary researchers have shown they can slow down the movement of cells and potentially stop tumours from spreading and growing.

Using a new super-resolution microscope they’ve been able to see single molecules of the enzyme at work in a liver cancer cell line. Then they’ve used confocal microscopes to see how disrupting the enzyme slows the cells down in living cancer cells.

The enzyme is DPP9 (dipeptidyl peptidase 9) which the researchers at the Centenary Institute and the Sydney Medical School were first to discover and clone, in 1999. Ever since they’ve been studying what it does, with a view to its possible use as a cancer drug target.

“It was exciting to be able to watch the enzyme at work and then block DPP9, and see the cells slow down,” says A/Prof Mark Gorrell from Centenary’s Molecular Hepatology unit. “This gives us our clearest evidence yet that this enzyme will be a good cancer drug target.”

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  • Picking endangered parrots out from the dawn chorus
  • Could maths and science have shortened WW1?
  • Lawrence Krauss
  • Nobel-winning photon-juggler replaces Schrödinger’s cat

These topics and more on the final day of the national physics conference, Thursday 11 December Read the full article →

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Good science happens when clever people ask insightful questions. Some papers at the national physics congress in Canberra last week took on their colleagues—asking penetrating questions of mainstream science. Read the full article →

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Victorian government supports plans to build a dark matter laboratory deep in Stawell Gold Mine.

The Victorian government has committed $1.75 million to help Australian scientists hunt for dark matter a kilometre underground in the Stawell gold mine in regional Victoria. The project will commence once the Federal government provides matching support from their regional development program.

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