The cloning of the genes for the melanocortin receptors (Chapter 7) and of the agouti proteins (Chapter 14), as well as the identification of melanocortin receptor subtype specific agonists and antagonists (Chapter 8) have produced some powerful new tools for the study of the melanocortin physiology. These advances, as well as advances in understanding the physiological roles of the melanocortins, appear to be responsible for a dramatic ten-fold increase in publications on the topic over the last five years (Fig. 1), at least as searched under the keyword “melanocortin.” The finding of a role for the MC4-R in energy homeostasis has, for the first time, attracted a very significant effort in the area from the pharmaceutical industry as well. One industry-watcher has told me that there are now about 40 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies doing some sort of research on the MC4-R for the treatment of obesity.
KeywordsEnergy Homeostasis Coat Color Exocrine Gland Melanocortin Receptor Agouti Protein
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