Working with worms, scientists find a link between a genetic mutation and how diets are processed
Imagine being able to take a pill that lets you eat all of the ice cream, cookies, and cakes that you wanted – without gaining any weight.
New research from USC suggests that dream may not be impossible. A team of scientists led by Sean Curran of the USC Davis School of Gerontology and the Keck School of Medicine of USC found a new way to suppress the obesity that accompanies a high-sugar diet, pinning it down to a key gene that pharmaceutical companies have already developed drugs to target.
So far, Curran's work has been solely on the worm Caenorhabditis elegans and human cells in a petri dish – but the genetic pathway he studied is found in almost all animals from yeast to humans. Next, he plans to test his findings in mice.
Curran's research is outlined in a study that will be published on Oct. 6 by Nature Communications.
Building on previous work with C. elegans, Curran and his colleagues found that certain genetic mutants – those with a hyperactive SKN-1 gene – could be fed incredibly high-sugar diets without gaining any weight, while regular C. elegans ballooned on the same diet.
"The high-sugar diet that the bacteria ate was the equivalent of a human eating the Western diet," Curran said, referring to the diet favored by the Western world, characterized by high-fat and high-sugar foods, like burgers, fries and soda.
The SKN-1 gene also exists in humans, where it is called Nrf2, suggesting that the findings might translate, he said. The Nrf2 protein, a "transcription factor" that binds to a specific sequence of DNA to control the ability of cells to detox or repair damage when exposed to chemically reactive oxygen (a common threat to cells' well being), has been well studied in mammals.
Pharmaceutical companies have already worked to develop small-molecule drugs that target Nrf2, in hopes that it will produce more anti-oxidants and slow aging.
Though the promise of a pill to help control your body's response to food is enticing, it is not without risk, Curran said. Increased Nrf2 function has been linked to aggressive cancers.
"Perhaps it is a matter of timing and location," Curran said. "If we can acutely activate Nrf2 in specific tissues when needed then maybe we can take advantage of its potential benefits."###
Curran, the corresponding author on the study, collaborated with Shanshan Pang and Jennifer Paek of USC Davis; and Dana Lynn and Jacqueline Lo of USC Davis and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (P40 OD010440 and AG032308), the Ellison Medical Foundation, and the American Federation of Aging Research.
University of Southern California | Eurek Alert!
Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences