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Scientists discover how obesity gene works

Published : Monday March 19, 2012 | Posted in : News
weight gain

For years scientists have believed in the existence of a gene that causes people to eat more than they need, and a recent breakthrough by Georgetown University Medical Centre may identify how this gene works.

The team of researchers from the US have been performing tests on mice and discovered that a one single gene mutation could break down hormonal communication in the body, resulting in a delayed response in being full. The particular gene responsible for this communication break-down is known as the Bdnf gene and is also present in humans, but until the recent discovery by scientists it wasn’t fully understood how mutations of this gene played a part in satiety.

Normally after meals, the Bdnf gene sends chemical signals to the hypothalamus, which then causes a person to feel full. However, in cases where there is a mutation of the gene, the chemical signals sent to the hypothalamus weren’t being transmitted correctly, resulting in a person eating more than they need to.

Lead researchers, Dr Baoki Xu said that he believes that this could open up new opportunities to help people control their body weight by influencing brain chemistry. Scientists are currently looking at different ways in which they can correct these errors in transmission and in such a way develop better treatments. However, it may still be many years before treatments to correct these errors will be effective in mice, let alone humans, according to Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum.

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