Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Obesity 'master-switch' in genes may be turned off: study

20 August 2015, 11:02

Miami - Scientists have identified a genetic master-switch that makes some people more prone to obesity than others, and research out Wednesday suggests it can be turned off, possibly leading to weight loss.

So far, researchers have been able to manipulate the genes of mice and human cells in the lab in order to reverse obesity, but the approach has not yet been tested in people.

If future studies are successful, the method could offer a novel way to cure obesity, a major public health problem that experts say affects some 500 million people around the world and can lead to cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

"Obesity has traditionally been seen as the result of an imbalance between the amount of food we eat and how much we exercise, but this view ignores the contribution of genetics to each individual's metabolism," said senior author Manolis Kellis, a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The study, co-authored by scientists at MIT and the Harvard University Medical School, appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers focused on a gene region known as "FTO," which has been probed widely since it was discovered in 2007 but has remained poorly understood.

Previous research tried to link the FTO region with brain circuits that control appetite, but researchers now believe the action takes place in fat cells and affects how much fat is stored, independently of the brain.

Specifically, the study found that a higher expression of two distant genes, IRX3 and IRX5, meant more fat was stored.

Then, they showed that they could manipulate this new pathway to reverse the signatures of obesity.

Using a DNA editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas9, researchers could switch between lean and obese signatures.

When researchers inhibited the corresponding gene in the fat cells of mice, the animals' metabolism soared and they shed weight without eating less or exercising more.

"The results at the organism level were dramatic," said lead author Melina Claussnitzer, a visiting professor at MIT.

"These mice were 50 percent thinner than the control mice, and they did not gain any weight on a high-fat diet. Instead they dissipated more energy, even in their sleep, suggesting a dramatic shift in their global metabolism," she added.

"The circuitry underlying the FTO region functions like a master regulatory switch between energy storage and energy dissipation."

Researchers said they are currently forming partnerships with academics and industry to explore therapeutic options - and perhaps a cure - for obesity.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...