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Scientists On The Way To Genetically Altering Fat Genes
Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2004
What if there were a way to genetically alter the genes that make you gain weight.
Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School are in the middle of breakthrough research, that involves manipulating genes in mice, that is preventing them from packing on the pounds. But, can it be done in humans?
Imagine if you could indulge in the fattiest of foods and not gain a single pound.
Researchers in Michigan created an artificial sequence of DNA called a transgene by manipulating a protein found in fat tissue known as WNT-10B. Dr. Long says, "What we saw was the animals had a reduction of fat, about 50% the amount that normal animals have on a normal diet or high fat diet."
This happened in part because there was an actual decrease in the number of cells within the fat tissue, so the genetically altered mice have half as many fat cells as the normal mice.
When humans gain weight, there is actually an enlargement or hypertrophy of the fat cells. The researchers also found that the fat cells of the transgenetic mice do not enlarge either, preventing obesity.
There were some undesirable characteristics of the genetically engineered mice. They have thicker skin, and the females have underdeveloped breast tissue.
Still it's believed these hurdles can be overcome and that's why several drug companies are targeting this exact pathway. Researchers also found that the transgenetic mice were able to avoid diabetes.
And aside from an inability to protect themselves from the cold as well as the normal mice can, the genetically engineered mice were surprisingly healthy.
But don't expect this to be the cure for fatness in the near future. Rather, the research can help better understand the development of fat in mammals.
Researchers say they also found one other less than desirable side effect: the male mice were not able to engage in appropriate mating behavior.
They seemed to be disinterested in mating with the females.
Source: Diabetes In Control.com.
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