by David Gutierrez, Natural News:
Researchers from Harvard and MIT claim to have discovered the mechanism by which a specific gene variant increases the risk of obesity in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Shockingly, the researchers claim that this discovery could pave the path for a way to “cure” obesity by modifying the DNA of people who carry this variant.
Obesity is a risk factor for many major health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. As rates continue to increase worldwide, experts and the media alike have taken to speaking of an obesity “epidemic.”
Scientists suggest modifying human genome
Researchers had previously discovered that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) — a measure of obesity — are significantly more likely to carry a specific variant of a gene called FTO, which has in turn been dubbed the “obesity gene.” In the new study, researchers examined fat samples from people with both the “obesity” FTO variant and the more common FTO variant. They found that the “obesity” variant caused two other genes — IRX3 and IRX5 — to switch on.
IRX3 and IRX5 are known to suppress fat metabolism and cause the body to store extra fat during periods of starvation. The “obesity” FTO variant seems to activate these genes even in the absence of food scarcity.
The researchers then performed an experiment in mice using a DNA editing technique known as CRISPR/CAS9, which snips out sections of DNA and replaces them with a new code. They found that mice that had the “obesity” FTO variant in their fat cells replaced with the more common variant lost weight and body fat, even when they were on a high-fat diet.
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