Suggest obesity can be cured by modifying a number of genes

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Scientists believe that obesity can be fought by modifying the activity of a series of genes connected to the so-called ‘hippo pathway’, which regulates the size of organs by moderating cell growth, according to a study published in the journal PLOS Biology.

The study was conducted by looking for obesity genes in fat flies, according to a release of researchers. Finding them began by studying a large data set of gene sequences from people with early severe obesity and focused on small genetic changes that were present in two copies of genes in affected individuals but rare in the population. Then a technique called RNA interference was used to reduce the activity of each gene in turn, and the effect on triglyceride levels, the main fat storage molecule in flies, was studied.

Triglycerides increased significantly after reducing the activity of four genes connected to the hippo pathway. There they also found that removing different links in the pathway also significantly altered triglyceride levels. In humans, the authors found that rare variants in genes encoding two other members of the hippo pathway were also linked to obesity. “Studies of obese individuals have the potential to identify genes that, when mutated, can lead to human obesity; however, establishing a functional relationship between these genes and obesity is challenging,” commented Andrea Brand, one of the authors. from work.

“We were able to assess gene function in the humble fruit fly and not only identified four new obesity genes, we also predicted a fifth, in which rare variants were subsequently found in obese individuals,” said Dr. Brand.

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Why in flies?

The study was conducted on flies because, like humans, these insects gain weight and develop heart problems when raised on diets high in fat or sugar. Additionally, several genes that affect fat levels in flies have evolutionary counterparts in humans.

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