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Thursday, 26 August 2004
Gene helps to burn fat
Topic: Health
Researchers have discovered how to alter a gene in mice that increased their stamina and enabled them to eat huge amounts of food without getting fat.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Ronald Evans, leader of the study, said that it could lead to a pill that gives many of the benefits of exercise without the need to exercise.

"It is a pill that, in part, mimics exercise. It mimics the metabolic activity associated with exercise," he told Reuters recently.

The gene involved is called PPAR-delta, a master regulator of different genes. Activating this gene had been shown to help raise metabolism and fat-burning.

Dr Evans and his colleagues wrote in the journal Public Library of Science Biology that they altered the PPAR-delta gene to stay in a permanently "on" position and then genetically engineered mice with it.

The genetically engineered mice were able to run an hour longer than normal mice were, and when fed a high-fat diet, the normal mice became fat, while the genetically altered mice gained no weight.

The mice grew more slow-twitch muscle fibres, which are used for endurance activity, as opposed to the fast-twitch muscles used for sprinting.

Dr Evans said he is still studying the mice to determine the impact on longevity. With obesity linked to several age-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, there is potential beneficial impact.

The researchers used genetic manipulation in the study, but they also gave an experimental drug called GW501516 that also activates PPAR-delta. Normal mice given the drug could also eat a high-fat diet without gaining weight.

In the fight against obesity and its associated diseases, these findings should be welcome indeed.

Posted by lim_cs at 7:27 PM JST | post your comment (0) | link to this post

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