Discovery of gene that is calorie-burning and reduces fat storage

Australian researchers have found a gene which when removed could allow a person to eat as much as they want but not get fat. The study results were published in the latest issue of the journal European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports.

Regulator of Calcineurin 1 helps coordinate whole‐body metabolism and thermogenesis
Regulator of Calcineurin 1 helps coordinate whole‐body metabolism and thermogenesis

The gene in question here is called RCAN1. The team from Flinders University bred mice without this gene. Then they noted that the lab mice without the gene could feed as much as they wanted without gaining weight. The team explains that humans also have this gene and if this gene could be removed they could help overweight and obese adults. This approach is both innovative and novel according to researchers.

Study leader Professor Damien Keating, head of molecular and cellular physiology at the university called these results “exciting” saying that the world is suffering from the obesity epidemic and added, “We know a lot of people struggle to lose weight or even control their weight for a number of different reasons. The findings in this study could mean developing a pill which would target the function of RCAN1 and may result in weight loss.”

Keating added that he had received funding for this study from the Australian government saying “we can potentially make a real difference in the fight again obesity”. The team fed the mice without the RCAN1 gene with different diets including ones with high fat that could cause weight gain. The time duration for the diets were from eight weeks to up to six months. Results revealed that this gene when blocked can transform the white fat (which is considered unhealthy) into healthy brown fat. The brown fat is the source of energy because it burns to provide the energy but the white fat causes deposits of fat within the body explain the researchers.

The team believes a pill could knock out the gene and this would allow people to burn more calories while they are at rest and at the same time leave their appetites unaffected. Keating says, “It means the body would store less fat without the need for a person to reduce food consumption or exercise more.”

Ananya Mandal

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Ananya Mandal

Ananya is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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