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Home Industry News ‘Skinny’ gene found

‘Skinny’ gene found

6th September 2007

Scientists believe they have found the gene for ‘skinniness’, potentially explaining why some people find it hard to shift extra weight.

The team behind the discovery argue that it could be an important step in creating a new weapon to target the western world’s growing obesity crisis.

Known as adipose, the gene was first identified in fat fruit flies 50 years ago but its mechanism remained unknown.

In tests on mice, worms and flies scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre found that the gene acts as an important switch that tells the body whether to accumulate or burn fat.

Mice with higher activity of adipose ate as much or more than normal mice but were leaner and had diabetes-resistant fat cells. They were also able to better control insulin and blood sugar levels.

In contrast, animals with less adipose activity were fatter, less healthy and had diabetes.

Writing in the journal Cell Press, the researchers argue that if the gene works in the same way in humans then it could prove to be a tool to target obesity.

“It could explain why so many people struggle to lose weight and suggests an entirely new direction for developing medical treatments that address the current epidemic of diabetes and obesity,” said the study’s senior author Dr Jonathan Graff.

“[Adipose] is like a volume control instead of a light switch; it can be turned up or down, not just on or off. Eventually, of course, the idea is to develop drugs to target this system, but that’s in the years to come.”

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