New weight-loss virus causes a stir

Health and science bloggers and website are abuzz with news of a virus that could be used to "rewire" your brain to eat less.

In a study published May 4 (and reportedly the first of its kind), researchers at the renowned Johns Hopkins University in the US infected rats with a virus that inhibited hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY), a protein linked to appetite.

The virus-laden rats ate less and lost weight compared to the healthy rats. What’s more is that researchers found that when they gave the rats a high-calorie diet, brown fat, which is easier for the body to burn off, formed instead of hard-to-shed white fat.

"Every few months there's a new diet fad in the media that's allegedly helping various celebrities lose weight and look fabulous,” writes website Pop Gadget ( “I know some people would jump at the chance to lose weight regardless of the repercussions, but a system that involves ‘infecting’ patients just seems so wrong!”

“Currently the virus is still under ‘testing’ and its unclear as to when it will be tested in humans, but I think I can see a little bit of I am Legend in this story,” writes tech blogger Tek-Bull (

Prior research has revealed that a common virus may actually play a role in obesity. Scientists have for years been investigating the link between adenovirus-36, linked to colds and eye infections, and childhood obesity. Research has shown that being exposed to the virus not only boosts human fat-cell production, but also makes fat cells fatter.

Access the latest study on the weight-loss virus in the journal Cell Metabolism.