Genetic discovery could pave way for obesity, diabetes treatments

WASHINGTON - Researchers at University of Central Florida have identified a new genetic mechanism that controls the body’s fat-building process, paving way for treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The discovery has the potential to help hundreds of millions of people and dramatically cut health care costs.

Led by Pappachan Kolattukudy, director of UCF’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine, found that a gene called MCPIP (Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 Induced Protein) controls the development of fat cells.

Until now, a different protein, known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR gamma), has been universally accepted as the master controller of fat cell formation, known as adipogenesis.

But the new findings has opened new doors for scientists looking forward to develop drugs that could benefit the more than 300 million people worldwide who are clinically obese, and who have much higher risks of suffering from chronic disease and disability.

Besides, it is projected that more than 300 million people will be diabetic by the year 2025.

Kolattukudy said MCPIP is potentially an ideal target for drugs that would prevent the body from becoming resistant to insulin and prone to type 2 diabetes.

“Our research has shown that MCPIP is a regulator of fat cell formation and blood vessel formation that feeds the growing fat tissue. Therefore, a drug that can shut down its function can prevent obesity and the major inflammatory diseases resulting from obesity, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” the expert said.

For the study, the researchers introduced MCPIP to living cells from mice that had been stripped of the PPAR gamma gene and found that the cells still completed the developmental process necessary to build fat.

Now, the researchers are planning to explore chemical combinations to discover drugs that are effective at shutting down the novel gene.

The development of new drugs that can block or slow down the formation of MCPIP likely would take several years.

The findings will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (ANI)

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