A new study suggests Nicotine-based drugs may be useful in controlling obesity and other metabolic disorders in addition to helping people stop smoking, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Smokers often cite depressed appetite and weight control as reasons for not quitting, but the anorexic effects of nicotine have not traditionally been well understood, according to a study in Science.

Researchers at Yale University found that low doses of nicotine or cytisine, a drug that binds to nicotine receptors, reduced body fat in mice by 15 percent to 20 percent and food intake by up to 50 percent.

Research showed the nicotine drugs acted on a brain pathway involved in the regulation of appetite called the hypothalamic melanocortin system. The drugs activated receptors located on pro-opiomelanocortin or POMC cells, a subset of neurons in the hypothalamus.

When mice with the POMC pathway were given nicotine or cytisine, they lost weight whereas mice without the pathway were unchanged.

Drugs that target the POMC pathway could limit the weight gain that follows smoking cessation, researchers noted.

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