Gene that lets you eat as much as you want discovered!

Gene that lets you eat as much as you want discovered!

It sounds too good to be true, but a novel approach that might allow you to eat as much food as you want without gaining weight could be a reality in the near future. When a single gene known as RCAN1 was removed in mice and they were fed a high fat diet, they failed to gain weight, even after gorging on high fat foods for prolonged periods. The international team behind the study are hopeful a similar approach that inhibits this gene will also be effective with humans to combat obesity and serious diseases like diabetes.

The study used a huge genetic screen in rodents to identify novel genetic candidates that may cause obesity, potentially paving the way for new drug therapies.

There are two types of fat in the human body- brown fat burns energy, while white fat stores energy. The senior author says blocking RCAN1 helps to transform unhealthy white fat into healthy brown fat, presenting a potential treatment method in the fight against obesity.

They provide evidence that Regulator of Calcineurin 1 (RCAN1), a feedback inhibitor of the calcium‐activated protein phosphatase calcineurin (CN), acts to suppress two distinctly different mechanisms of non‐shivering thermogenesis (NST): one involving the activation of UCP1 expression in white adipose tissue, the other mediated by sarcolipin (SLN) in skeletal muscle. UCP1 generates heat at the expense of reducing ATP production, whereas SLN increases ATP consumption to generate heat. Gene expression profiles demonstrate a high correlation between Rcan1 expression and metabolic syndrome.

"We have already developed a series of drugs that target the protein that this gene makes, and we are now in the process of testing them to see if they inhibit RCAN1 and whether they might represent potential new anti-obesity drugs,"

"In light of our results, the drugs we are developing to target RCAN1 would burn more calories while people are resting. It means the body would store less fat without the need for a person to reduce food consumption or exercise more. We looked at a variety of different diets with various timespans from eight weeks up to six months, and in every case we saw health improvements in the absence of the RCAN1 gene."

The researchers say these findings open up a potentially simple treatment but further studies are required to determine if they translate the same results to humans. "Our research is focused on understanding how cells send signals to each other and how this impacts health and the spread of disease".