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Could blocking a single gene be the key to curing obesity?

05/12/2018

Could blocking a single gene be the key to curing obesity?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is a “global epidemic” that must be tackled if we are to prevent its ill effects. In the United States, nearly 40% of adults and 18.5% of children aged 2 to 19 are obese.


Obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. That’s why finding effective ways to treat the condition is paramount.


But now scientists say they are on the verge of creating a pill that could make obesity a thing of the past - without the need for diet and exercise.


Sounds too good to be true, right? Nevertheless, the team at Flinders University in South Australia say that they key to curbing obesity could lie in a single gene known as RCAN1.


The team found that when RCAN1 was removed in mice and they were then fed a high fat diet, they did not gain weight. In fact, they could eat as much food as they wanted over a prolonged period of time, the researchers say.


Damien Keating, Ph.D., professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Flinders, and leader of the research team, said blocking RCAN1 allows the body to transform unhealthy white fat into calorie-burning brown fat.


Stunning pictures of the mice used for the trial highlight the difference when RCAN1 was blocked and when it wasn’t.


The results of the research are published in the journal EMBO Reports.

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