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Master Switch for Obesity Gene Found by Scientists

British scientists say they have found a “master switch” that may be responsible for controlling genes associated with body fat. In fact, they think their findings may help develop a treatment for obesity-related diseases.

Upon publishing the study in the Journal “Nature Genetics,” the British researchers believe that since fat is linked to people’s susceptibility to metabolic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, this regulating gene may be targeted in future drugs.

“This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes,” said the study’s lead author Tim Spector of King’s College London.

About one in 10 adults across the globe are obese – that’s more than 500 million! To put in perspective how groundbreaking such a drug would be, purely from a cost perspective, in the U.S. alone obesity-related diseases account for 10 percent of all medical expenses. That amounts to about $147 billion a year.

The researchers used a sample of 800 British women, analyzing over 20,000 genes in the fat samples taken. They found a link between the KLF14 gene, which scientists had already identified as being linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels, and other genes found in fat tissue. They confirmed their findings by comparing the British results to 600 samples taken from subjects in Iceland.

(via: Yahoo! News)

May 17th, 2011

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