According to a new study a gene that could be the cause of why some people are more susceptible to become obese has been found by scientists at the University of British Columbia. The gene encodes a protein called 14-3-3zeta and is found in every cell in the body and controls the number of fat cells.
When scientists at the university silenced what could be the obesity gene in mice it resulted in a 50 percent reduction of ‘white fat’ which is the unhealthy fat associated not only with obesity but diabetes and heart disease.
The researchers believe that suppressing the gene through drug therapy could potentially prevent fat from accumulating in people who are overweight or on their way in becoming so.
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 some reports and 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.”
Of course a potential downside of a treatment like this could be people’s laziness which leads them to search out a ‘quick fix’ solution that allows 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.