Hundreds of gene variants can show up more within individuals suffering from obesity and other similar diseases. However, ‘more likely to show up’ does not necessarily mean that they are relevant in causing the disease. This ambiguity is a significant impediment to utilizing the power of population genetics to find targets for treating or curing obesity.
This health condition negatively affects about 40% of the American population alone. The problem might soon be solved; researchers have finally identified 14 genes that can cause weight gain. Further, they have also narrowed down three genes that can prevent weight gain. The proposed findings could bring a boom within the Global Weight Loss Market to help develop better treatments to fight against obesity.
Researchers created an automated pipeline to test hundreds of genes for the causal role they play in causing obesity. Through the first round of experiments, the researchers uncovered more than twelve genes that cause obesity and three which can prevent it.
Their goal was to locate the gene that was actually either causing or preventing the disease. The team accomplished this by using worms with which they screened 293 genes linked with obesity in the population. They developed a model of obesity wherein they fed some a high-fructose diet and others a regular diet.
With the help of the obesity model and automation and supervised machine-learning testing, the team was able to locate 14 genes that were causing obesity and three which were preventing it. Intriguingly, they discovered that inhibiting the action of three genes that kept the worms from getting obese also resulted in them living longer and having a more excellent neuro-locomotory function. These are the kinds of advantages that drug companies would like to see from anti-obesity medications.
The researchers are highly excited about their study and revealed that the indicators are highly promising. For instance, by blocking the effects of one of the genes in a lab experiment, they discovered that it prevented weight gain in mice, lowered blood sugar levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. These results bode well that a similar reaction would be seen in humans as well.
There is a dire need for Anti-obesity therapies to reduce the burden of obesity within patients and its consequences on the healthcare system. The combination of human genomics with causality tests in animals shows that targeting anti-obesity genes would likely succeed in critical trials. This is because of its anticipated increased efficacy and lowered side effects.
It is believed that the novel approach and new genes uncovered will help accelerate the creation of treatments that reduce obesity in people.
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