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College student discovers research that could help fight sugar cravings

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Sharon Idiga, a third-year graduate student at the University of Iowa, believes every person should understand their body's cravings.

"If you love sugar, why? If you're obese and you can't help to eat sugar, why is that?" said Idiga.

Now, under the mentorship of Matthew Potthoff in the Molecular Medicine Program at UI, she's helping answer that question. It starts with FGF21, a hormone known to suppress the desire to eat sugar.

"It's an insulin sensitizer, so it helps lower blood glucose levels," said Idiga. "My project specifically is trying to look at how FGF21 signals in the brain to lower sugar intake."

She injects mice with the hormone and works to understand why they drink less sucrose after injection. She hypothesizes that the hormone interacts with the brain's rewards system, telling it to slow down--rather than to keep consuming--sugar. Finding out why, she says, is the next step to getting the drug on the market.

"We want to figure out how it's working, and we can apply that to different drug targets," said Idiga.

In the end, Idiga's research could eventually have you grabbing one less Snickers.

You can watch her story here.

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