Scientists at UBC say they might have found a gene that is responsible for obesity, and silencing this gene might help people lose weight.
The gene is found in every cell in the body, and when it was turned off in lab mice, there was a 50 per cent reduction in the harmful “white fat” that is associated with obesity, heart disease and diabetes, even when they were fed the same amount of food.
People gain weight in two ways: by accumulating fat cells and by the individual growth of fat cells, and this gene affects both the number and size of the fat cells.
With this better understanding of how obesity works, better treatments might be on the horizon.
“Until now, we didn’t know how this gene affected obesity. This study shows how fundamental research can address major health problems and open up new avenues for drug discovery,” said Professor of Cellular and Physiological Sciences James Johnson.
Obesity costs the healthcare system worldwide trillions of dollars each year. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians are considered obese, and that number is growing in children.