Gene: Obesity

Source: ‘Fat’ gene found by scientists, 13-04-2007

A gene that contributes to obesity has been identified for the first time, promising to explain why some people easily put on weight while others with similar lifestyles stay slim.

People who inherit one version of the gene rather than another are 70 per cent more likely to be obese, British scientists have discovered. One in six people has the most vulnerable genetic make-up and weighs an average 3kg more than those with the lowest risk. They also have 15 per cent more body fat.

If the biological function of the gene, known as FTO, can now be understood, it could become possible to design drugs that manipulate it to help people to control their weight. “Even though we have yet to fully understand the role played by the FTO gene in obesity, our findings are a source of great excitement,” Mark McCarthy, of the University of Oxford, who led the research, said.

Update: in 2006, older article on gene and obesity – Common Genetic Link to Obesity Is Discovered is reported.

A genetic variation predisposing people to obesity has been detected by a team of researchers at Boston University and elsewhere. Though the gene is expected to be just one of the many that contribute to the disease, its detection raises hopes that the others may be discovered within the next five years or so, said Michael F. Christman, a leader of the team.

The finding is reported in the current issue of the journal Science.

The team scanned genetic variations in people participating in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running survey of heart disease. They found a link between obesity and a short section of the genome that lies between two genes. One gene is of unknown function, but the other, known as Insig2, is well known as a regulator of fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis.

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