Discovery of 17 genes involved in obesity could lead to breakthrough treatments


At the end of September, scientists from University of Virginia revealed the discovery of a total of 17 genes directly involved in the development of obesity. This is an important breakthrough as the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this persistent and often overlooked crisis.

It’s no secret that the prevalence rates of obesity in children and adults have steadily increased over the past two decades. In a recent media statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of states in which 35% or more of the population suffered from obesity almost doubled, from nine in 2018 to 16 in 2020. Further analysis of the literature on patients with COVID-19 has revealed as children Pain of obesity had greater disease severity and higher hospitalization rates.

As this invisible epidemic continues to rage in the shadow of COVID-19[feminine, Dr Eyleen O’Rourke, Ph.D. et son équipe ont travaillé pour comprendre les facteurs génétiques derrière l’obésité.

« Nous connaissons des centaines de variantes génétiques qui sont plus susceptibles d’apparaître chez les personnes souffrant d’obésité et d’autres maladies. Mais « plus susceptible d’apparaître » ne signifie pas provoquer la maladie » mentionné O’Rourke, professeur adjoint de biologie et de biologie cellulaire au département de biologie cellulaire de l’UVA School of Medicine et au centre de recherche cardiovasculaire Robert M. Berne. “Nous prévoyons que notre approche et les nouveaux gènes que nous avons découverts accéléreront le développement de traitements pour réduire le fardeau de l’obésité.”

Alors que l’équipe de recherche était en grande partie composée de membres de l’UVA, des membres supplémentaires représentaient l’université suédoise d’Uppsala, le Broad Institute du MIT et Harvard. Ensemble, les chercheurs ont pu passer au peigne fin des centaines de gènes connus pour être associés à l’obésité et en identifier quelques-uns aux implications prometteuses.

« Des thérapies anti-obésité sont nécessaires de toute urgence pour réduire le fardeau de l’obésité chez les patients et le système de santé », O’Rourke déclaré dans le communiqué de presse. “Notre combinaison de génomique humaine et de tests de causalité sur des animaux modèles promet de produire des cibles anti-obésité plus susceptibles de réussir dans les essais cliniques en raison de leur efficacité accrue attendue et de leurs effets secondaires réduits.”

Intrigué, BioSpace s’est entretenu avec O’Rourke dans le but d’en savoir plus sur les résultats.

Faire la lumière sur l’invisible

En développant un modèle d’obésité pour le ver souvent étudié C. elegans, avec qui nous partageons une similitude génétique de 70 % et une réponse de gain de poids comparable à une consommation excessive de sucre, O’Rourke et son équipe ont examiné 293 gènes soupçonnés de commettre des crimes cellulaires causant l’obésité.

Parmi ceux-ci, un total de 17 gènes sont formellement accusés : ceux qui sont impliqués dans la causalité de l’obésité sont au nombre de 14, tandis que trois se sont avérés capables de jouer un rôle préventif.

O’Rouke a noté que l’obésité est une maladie complexe et que les progrès vers des réponses mécanistes définitives sont lents. “Même lorsque nous obtenons des réponses vraiment précises, ces réponses sont limitées à ce contexte particulier”, a-t-elle déclaré à BioSpace, précisant que l’activité de ces gènes pourrait changer si C. elegans ont été nourris avec un régime différent, sans haute teneur en fructose. « Maintenant, ce gène [may not be] do something. Not surprisingly, we have found many cases in which it does the opposite: instead of reducing fat levels, it increases current levels if I change the diet in a different way.

However, as the genes screened were already associated with obesity, the results are still promising. Even better, blocking the activity of a specific preventive gene appeared to improve neurolomotor function and increase the longevity of patients. C. elegans, two traits that are negatively influenced by obesity in humans.

That seems to be enough hope to fuel O’Rourke’s drive to uncover more pieces of the human body’s metabolic puzzle. In the meantime, she encourages more extensive research, saying, “It is important to remain open-minded about the value of inferior model systems, as well as newer systems, because who says flies, or mice, Where C. elegans offers us the best approximation of human physiology? “I’m sure there are a lot of things in nature that could be very informative that we just aren’t looking at.”

Obesity: the invisible epidemic

Since the Office of the Surgeon General issued a Call to action in 2001, obesity was a recurring topic of discussion. But lack of publicity isn’t the cause of obesity: in fact, the exact causes of obesity are many and varied, ranging from available diet options to fitness choices and individual heredity.

This complexity is why, despite Michele Obama’s school health initiatives from 2008 to 2016 and the many “healthy” options on food service menus, childhood obesity rates continue to rise. ascend. Results of the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Survey show that about 16.1% of children in the United States between the ages of 2 and 19 were overweight and 19.3% of them were obese, which includes the 6.1% with severe obesity. A Related A survey carried out during the same period assessed obesity rates among adults and found that the prevalence of adults with the disease was 42.4%.

If only the male stopped the. Unfortunately, childhood obesity is likely to turn into obesity in adulthood, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. In total, obesity costs patients and insurers more than 147 billion dollars one year. This represents an average of $ 1,429 more in medical costs for every adult suffering from obesity.

Genetics: the invisible brain

It is commonly believed that obese patients have no one to blame, and this opinion permeates our society from fashion magazines to emergency rooms, even in the most well-intentioned cases. However, the complex pathways between the interconnected systems that govern the body’s fat storage are not yet fully understood.

Research has shown that certain environmental factors are undoubtedly at play: social class, education, ethnicity and gender can all affect a given person’s access to food, as well as the nutritional value of that food. . In addition, studies show that a certain level of stress can cause the body to modify certain epigenetic markers and that some of them modifications maybe both bound obesity as well as transgenerational heritage.

In short, this means that obesity is not only less voluntary than often portrayed in commercial media, but it could also be heavily influenced by a number of inherited variables. Even more gloomy, the right mix of stress and poor nutrition could introduce these genetic variables into a family’s medical history “spontaneously” – meaning researchers and health professionals could observe the equivalent of genetic changes. one-offs that could suddenly appear in millions of current and future Americans, without any traceable origin.

It’s a sobering thought that requires more study and breakthrough like this.


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