Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New insight into the link between genetics and obesity

12.11.2007
Scientists have acquired new insight into how the ‘obesity gene’ triggers weight gain in some individuals. Their findings, reported online today in Science Express, could have implications for the future treatment of obesity as well as adult onset diabetes.

Earlier this year a team of British geneticists discovered that variation in a gene called FTO influence people’s risk of becoming obese. While genetic defects causing human obesity had been previously described, the FTO discovery was of considerable interest because the genetic variant in FTO that predisposes to obesity is very common.

About half the UK population carry a copy of the variant and they are on average 1.6 kilograms heaver than those who don’t have the variant, while 16% of the population carry two copies of the variant and are on average three kilograms heavier. Carriers of the variant also had an increased risk of diabetes. However the function of FTO was completely unknown.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, Oxford University and Cancer Research UK, London, have found that the FTO gene, codes for an enzyme that can act directly on DNA to modify it – suggesting that it might have a role in controlling the turning on and off of other genes.

... more about:
»FTO »obesity »variant

They also found that FTO is highly expressed in a region of the brain, called the hypothalamus, which has important roles in the control of hunger and satiety and that, in certain parts of the hypothalamus, the levels of FTO are influenced by feeding and fasting.

This work benefited from an unusual and exciting collaboration. Initially, the Cambridge/London and the Oxford teams were working independently on this problem but recently pooled their complementary expertise to ensure that the findings were reliably repeatable using different approaches in different laboratories.

Professor Stephen O’Rahilly, who led the Cambridge part of the collaboration, said: “This is the first glimpse into the possible mechanisms whereby this very common genetic variant might influence a person’s risk of obesity. The finding that FTO is an enzyme with these actions on DNA is very surprising and a lot of work is still needed to work out how its actions influence body weight.

“The finding that FTO may have some involvement in the control of the function of the hypothalamus suggest that, like other obesity genes previously discovered, it may play some role in the influencing how well the brain senses hunger and fullness. As the activity of FTO can be altered by small molecules like metabolites, it is possible, in the future, that FTO could be manipulated therapeutically to help treat obesity.”

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "This is an important piece of research. We know that obesity increases people's risk of developing a range of cancers as well as other diseases, and the increasing number of people who are overweight will have significant implications for cancer in the future. Unravelling how this gene works is very exciting and may one day lead to new treatments for obesity. However maintaining a healthy body weight through a balanced diet and regular physical activity is important for general health as well as reducing the risk of many cancers."

Genevieve Maul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cam.ac.uk

Further reports about: FTO obesity variant

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>