Woman's rare genetic disorder could hold the key to weight loss - Asprosin on CBS Evening News w/ Scott Pelley

CBS's Jim Axelrod interviews BCM's Atul Chopra  (320x240)
CBS's Jim Axelrod interviews Baylor College of Medicine's Atul Chopra

Our lab was featured in March 2017 in a segment on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. CBS Evening News correspondent Jim Axelrod visited us at Baylor to interview Dr. Chopra on the novel hormone Asprosin, and its potential as a therapeutic target in obesity and diabetes. The news segment tells the story of Abby, who suffers from a rare disease called Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome (NPS). The study of NPS eventually led us to discover Asprosin. This story shows, how studying rare, so-called orphan diseases, can often lead to discoveries that impact hundreds of thousands of patients with more common conditions.

The Thin Gene - The New York Times features our research

The Thin Gene (320x240)

During November 2016 the New York Times published a feature article about our work. The article narrates the story of one of our patients, Abby Solomon, who suffers from Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome. The article describes how Dr. Chopra met Abby, and how we used state of the art tools to solve a genetic riddle. The study of NPS eventually turned out to be the key to discovering Asprosin, a new hormone. Our work with NPS and Asprosin may hold clues to combating metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. This story serves as an illustration for how the study of rare diseases such as NPS has the power to impact much more common disorders that affect millions of people.

About our Lab

A new avenue for diabetes treatment

Our lab's research area is the field of energy homeostasis and metabolic disease. Through the assessment of humans with genetic defects in the processing of energy, we are able to identify new genes and pathways that have escaped attention so far. This not only benefits patients but also allows us to take the discovery into the lab and focus on filling in the gap from the gene to the phenotype.

Our goal is to identify novel processes and paradigms within the realm of energy homeostasis using human and mouse genetics as well as cutting edge molecular biology. The overarching aim is to help one patient at a time but also a broader swath of humanity via advancing medical knowledge and developing novel therapeutics.

Using a variety of integrated approaches, we recently identified a novel 28 kDa glucogenic hormone, which we named Asprosin. We found that asprosin is secreted by adipose tissue and traffics to the liver using the circulation, where it unleashes the cyclic AMP/Protein kinase A pathway, resulting in hepatic glucose production. This work was recently published - Romere, C., Duerrschmid, C., Bournat, J., Constable, P., Jain, M., Xia, F., et al. (2016). Asprosin, a Fasting-Induced Glucogenic Protein Hormone. Cell, 1–29. 

Current projects in the lab include dissection of other functions of asprosin, a search for the asprosin cell surface receptor, and determining the therapeutic potential of anti-asprosin antibodies.