Oct, 2021 - By WMR
A study discovered genes that lead to weight gain and genes that can prevent it, which could help to develop new drugs for treating obesity.
Obesity and metabolic diseases related to it are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity everywhere. There are no specific drug treatments to prevent obesity. However, a team of scientists at University of Virginia detected 14 genes that are associated with weight gain and 3 genes that prevent weight gain. This discovery could lead to development of drugs that prevent weight gain.
According to the scientists, there are many gene variants that are detected in people with obesity, yet just the occurrence of these variants does not prove that they cause the obesity. To tackle this barrier of uncertainty and to identify targets to treat obesity, the team created an automatic pipeline that determines the fundamental role of numerous genes in obesity. The scientists chose a worm, C. elegans that has more than 70% genes that are also found in humans. Some of these worms were put on unhealthy diet and some on a normal diet. Then by using machine learning to screen 293 genes related to obesity in humans, the scientists assessed the genes in worms. The team found 14 genes that caused obesity and 3 genes that prevented it. Intriguing finding of this study was that by blocking the function of the 3 genes, worms lived longer and had impressive neuro-locomotor function. Such advantages are expected to be obtained from drugs to treat obesity.
Moreover, after experimenting blocking of one the genes in lab mice, the team found out that it prevented weight gain in mice and lowered glucose levels in blood. As the chosen genes for the study are related with obesity in humans, the scientists claim that the outcomes of the study will be the same in people as well. The team believes that this approach would provide a promising path for the treatment of obesity.