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Newly found genes' potential role in obesity explored

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 8 months ago

Newly discovered genes may provide insight into the differences in body fat between men and women with obesity, as well as why some individuals gain excess weight in childhood. This study adds to the growing evidence that genetics play a role in obesity, and researchers hope that these findings will lead to more effective treatments.

The study, published in the journal Cell Genomics, identified specific genes related to body size and weight. Lead investigator Lena R. Kaisinger expressed surprise at the function of some of these genes, which also manage cell death and influence how cells respond to DNA damage. The researchers are unsure why these genes have this dual role, and further research is needed to explore this phenomenon.

The study found that women have five new genes linked to body mass index (BMI), while men have two. These genes include DIDO1, KIAA1109, MC4R, PTPRG, and SLC12A5 in women, and MC4R and SLTM in men. Additionally, individuals who recalled having obesity as children were more likely to have rare genetic changes in two other genes, OBSCN and MADD.

Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity and Metabolism Institute in Boston, commented on the significance of these genetic findings, stating that they confirm the role of genetics in obesity. The researchers analyzed the genomes of approximately 420,000 people stored in the UK Biobank, focusing on genes related to sex and age, areas that are not well-understood in relation to obesity.

While there are already treatments for obesity based on a person's genes, such as setmelanotide, which was approved by the FDA in 2022, translating the current research into clinical tests and treatments is still in the early stages. The ultimate goal is to be able to screen individuals for specific genetic profiles and provide personalized treatment based on those profiles.

Moving forward, Kaisinger and her colleagues plan to expand their study to larger and more diverse populations. They also intend to explore the function of these genes in mouse models to gain a better understanding of how their dysfunction contributes to obesity.

Understanding the genetic factors behind obesity is an active area of research, and further findings may shed light on how different types of obesity are influenced by an individual's genes.

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