A gene that could be the cause of why some people are more susceptible to become obese has been found by scientists according to a new study.
Scientists at the University of British Colombia have discovered what they call the obesity gene. The gene in question encodes a protein called ’14-3-3zeta’. It’s in every cell in the body and controls the number of fat cells.
Scientists silenced what the believe is the obesity gene in mice. It resulted in a 50 percent reduction of ‘white fat’. This is the unhealthy fat associated with obesity and diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Suppressing the gene through drug therapy could prevent fat from accumulating in people who are overweight.
If their theory proves right this could be a huge boon for the global healthcare system. Obesity costs far outweigh war, violence and terrorism according to reports. In the U.S. obesity adds $190bn every year to the healthcare bill which equates to 21 percent of total expenditure.
James Johnson, a professor of cellular and physiological sciences at the university said, “Until now, we didn’t know how this gene affected obesity [but] this study shows how fundamental research can address major health problems and open up new avenues for drug discovery.”
A potential downside of such a treatment could lead people to believe there is a ‘quick fix’. Allowing them to continue with their unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
This approach would surely cause other health issues to arise whether they’re obese or not. Healthy lifestyle habits would have to go hand-in-hand with such a treatment.
Regardless, the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives and this is an exciting discovery in the field of personal genomics.