Is There an Obesity Gene?
For a few years now, there have been whispers about an ‘obesity gene’. And now it looks like scientists have indeed identified a gene that could cause obesity.
The University of British Colombia study found that the gene appears in every single cell in the human body – and conveniently in the bodies of mice, since that’s what scientists used to test their theory.
When that gene was ‘switched off’ in the test mice, their levels of obesity-causing white fat were reduced by a staggering 50 percent. It didn’t matter if the mice ate as much as the control mice, they still experienced this fat loss.
The obesity protein
The gene responsible for producing white fat ‘encodes’ the 14-3-3zeta protein. Interestingly, when scientists bred mice to be born with the protein, they ended up with around 22 percent more white fat – and were much larger than their control friends.
This link is a promising ones, as scientists can now inch closer to developing anti-obesity medication. It could be possible to silence 14-3-3zeta in a person’s cells, to stop production of white fat in people who are prone to obesity.
A ScienceDaily report quotes postdoctoral fellow Gareth Lim: “People gain fat in two ways – through the multiplication of their fat cells, and through the expansion of individual fat cells. This protein affects both the number of cells and how big they are, by playing a role in the growth cycle of these cells."
Given the growing rate of overweight and obesity in the world – as well as the serious health problems that arise as a result of the condition – unlocking the key to fat cell growth and development is crucial.
And this revelation will surely pave the way towards combatting what some call the ‘obesity epidemic.’
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