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:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Health Alert

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fighting AIDS

Fighting AIDS

'Bad' laws hurt sex workers, gays from Uganda to Nepal, AIDS meeting told.  Full Article 

Fitness Hooping

Fitness Hooping

Hoopsters put circus-inspired spin on cardio workout.  Full Article 

Information Vacuum

Information Vacuum

Sierra Leone religious leaders criticise government handling of Ebola.  Full Article 

Who's Responsible?

Who's Responsible?

U.S. CDC says it 'may never know' how bird flu mishap occurred.  Full Article 

HIV in India

HIV in India

Four of every 10 Asians living with HIV are Indian – U.N. report.  Full Article 

U.S. Medicare

U.S. Medicare

U.S. Medicare program scales back hospice drugs restrictions.  Full Article 

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana

Illinois legalizes medical marijuana for children with seizures.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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