Study finds six new gene mutations linked to obesity

WASHINGTON Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:58pm IST

Subway riders walk through the turnstiles while leaving the U.S. Open in New York September 4, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Subway riders walk through the turnstiles while leaving the U.S. Open in New York September 4, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers have identified six new gene mutations linked to obesity and said on Sunday they point to ways the brain and nervous system control eating and metabolism.

"Today's findings are a major step forward in understanding how the human body regulates weight," Dr. Alan Guttmacher, Acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, said in a statement.

"This study essentially doubles in one fell swoop the number of known and replicated genetic factors contributing to obesity as a public health problem," added Dr. Kari Stefansson, Chief Executive Officer of deCODE Genetics of Iceland and one of the researchers.

The international team analyzed 300,000 one-letter mutations in the genetic code known as single nucleotide polymorohisms or SNPs in more than 30,000 people from Iceland, the Netherlands and the United States.

They cross-checked their findings in 40,000 people from Denmark and the United states.

They found variations in six genes -- TMEM18, KCTD15, GNPDA2, SH2B1, MTCH2 and NEGR1 -- were strongly associated with a height-to-weight ratio known as body mass index or BMI.

"Today's findings are a major step forward in understanding how the human body regulates weight," said Guttmacher, whose institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, helped fund and conduct the study.

"One of the most notable aspects of these discoveries is that most of these new risk factors are near genes that regulate processes in the brain," added Stefansson, whose company hopes to sell genetic tests based on such discoveries.

"This suggests that as we work to develop better means of combating obesity, including using these discoveries as the first step in developing new drugs, we need to focus on the regulation of appetite at least as much as on the metabolic factors of how the body uses and stores energy," Stefansson said.

"These new variants may point to valuable new drug targets," he added.

Nearly a third of U.S. adults are considered obese with a BMI of 30 or more. Obesity is associated with more than 100,000 deaths each year in the U.S. population and trends are similar in many other countries.

"We know that environmental factors, such as diet, play a role in obesity, but this research further provides evidence that genetic variation plays a significant role in an individual's predisposition to obesity," said the genome institute's Dr. Eric Green.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; editing by Todd Eastham)

FILED UNDER:

Ebola Crisis

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ten Years On

Ten Years On

10 years on, tsunami warning stumbles at the "last mile".  Full Article 

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Hopeful Dhoni

Hopeful Dhoni

India's new vintage nearly ready, says Dhoni.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Ali Hospitalized

Ali Hospitalized

Boxing great Muhammad Ali hospitalized with pneumonia.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage