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Chemical that can stop you eating for pleasure found .

Scientists have found an appetite suppressant that can curb the desire for "pleasure eating", a discovery that could lead to a new class of dieting drugs.

Researchers at Manchester University found that the substance called hemopressin, which occurs naturally in the body, affects the reward centres of the brain that light up when someone enjoys a comforting snack or cigarette.

It was found to be blocking these areas of the brain, reducing the craving for post-pub kebabs and calorific late-night snacks.

Dr Garron Dodd, who led the research, said the finding could lead to drugs that can stimulate the brain to produce more hemopressin, which will prevent people from eating purely for pleasure instead of from hunger.

"The discovery offers new insights into how the brain controls appetite and opens new avenues by which to manipulate this brain circuitry and aid the development of anti-obesity treatments," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

The chemical can also be used to treat alcohol and drug abuse, the researchers said.

About six years ago, a synthetic product called Rimonabant, which acted on the brain to reduce hunger, was developed and marketed as an anti-obesity treatment.

But it appeared to increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and was withdrawn from the market.

Dr Dodd believes naturally-occurring hemopressin can suppress hunger without the side effects.

For their study, the researchers fed hemopressin to laboratory mice and found that they ate less food. It was also found that the chemical had no other impact on their behaviour.

An identical group of mice given a synthetic form of the chemical also ate less, but suffered side effects such as increased grooming and scratching.

Dr Dodd said: "While our findings are an indication of safety, this cannot be immediately extrapolated to humans.

"We now plan to investigate this further."

The latest findings are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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