‘Obesity Gene’ May Hold the Key to Eradicating Obesity

For the first time, a direct link between a gene and fat production has been discovered. The results of recent research could reduce obesity altogether. The research was published in Nature Communications and brings an end to a four-year study and provides the perfect catalyst for further research.

Did you know it is now estimated more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese? Well, new genetic-based findings could help develop drug therapies that diminish the obesity percentage. While scientists already know that there are many reasons why two people with the same diets and exercise regimens can gain different amounts of weight and why fat becomes stored in different parts of their bodies there had been no significant evidence of genes playing a role in this. Recently, an international collaboration of scientists helped researchers hone in on genetic reasons for the crippling epidemic of obesity.

Using the largest set of genetic samples for the study of body fat distribution and body mass, the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) group of researchers analyzed more than 300,000 genetic samples and found 89 new genetic locations across the genome that play roles in obesity. These include body mass index (BMI) and where fat is stored in the body.

While tedious, the results of this research are groundbreaking. Finding these locations is a necessary step towards pinpointing individual genes that play major roles in traits related to obesity. Ultimately, finding specific genetic variations can help structure therapeutic interventions. Scientists theorize that by suppressing the gene or blocking a specific protein, excess fat accumulation in people who are at risk of obesity can be prevented.

Kari North, PhD, a key researcher in this study explains, “Obesity is a worldwide public health burden with no safe and long-term treatments available. Our development of new therapy is limited by our lack of knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology of obesity. One novel and exciting way to identify new biology is through the study of human genetics.”

James Johnson, author of the study, believes the results can contribute to new drug therapies for weight loss, “Until now, we did not know how this gene affected obesity. This study shows how fundamental research can address major health problems and open up new avenues for effective treatment.”

Even though current drug therapy is an option for obesity, Medical Metabolic Research stresses the importance of lifestyle intervention, regular exercise and comprehensive weight management for tackling obesity. To find out more about our programs, click here or stop in to the office to speak with one of our team members.

Source: Medical News Today & UNC Health Care

Last updated on August 13, 2015, posted in: News, Recent research by
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