06 March 2013
A gene that causes obesity in mice has been discovered, a finding that could be a "major breakthrough" in disrupting obesity in humans.
Scientists at the University of Colorado identified that deleting a specific gene in mice prevents them from becoming obese, even on a high fat diet.
The two-year study saw the research team create a strain of mice without the Plin2 gene, which produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism and, crucially, is also in humans.
Typically, mice fed a high fat diet will eat voraciously, but the mice without Plin2 showed an "unusual restraint". "Not only did they eat less, they were more active," the researchers said.
Professor James McManaman of Colorado's school of medicine said: "When fed a diet that induces obesity these mice don't get fat. It may be possible to duplicate this in humans using existing technology that targets this specific gene."
The researchers plan to better understand how the removal of the gene affects food consumption.
"It could mean that we have finally discovered a way to disrupt obesity in humans," said Professor McManaman. "That would be a major breakthrough."
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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