• US stock market daily report (August 20, 2015, Thursday)

    Published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, a group of scientists finally solved a big mystery on how the key gene tied to obesity, makes people fat. Researchers have known that a gene called FTO was related to obesity since 2007 but, didn't know how and could not tie the gene to appetite or other known factors.

    Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University made the major discovery that could open the door to an entirely new approach to the obesity problem, beyond diet and exercise.

    A faulty FTO gene causes energy from food to be stored as fat rather than burned, found through their scientific experiments.

    In the lab, genetic tinkering in mice and on human cells suggests the faulty FTO gene can be reversed, giving hope that a drug or other treatment might be developed to do the same in people.

    Worldwide, over 500 million people are obese - contributing to a host of diseases and medical conditions. Nearly one-third of adults in the USA are obese, with another third being modestly overweight.

    Study leader Melina Claussnitzer, a genetics specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said the discovery challenges the notion that "when people get obese it was basically their own choice because they choose to eat too much or not exercise."

    Claussnitzer said, "For the first time, genetics has revealed a mechanism in obesity that was not really suspected before" and gives a third explanation or presents another factor that's involved.

    Dr. Clifford Rosen, a scientist at Maine Medical Center Research Institute and an associate editor at the medical journal said, "It's a big deal."

    Rosen said, "A lot of people think the obesity epidemic is all about eating too much," but our fat cells play a role in how food gets used. With this discovery he added, "you now have a pathway for drugs that can make those fat cells work differently."

    The FTO gene was found in 44% of Europeans but only 5% of blacks which means that other genes are clearly at work with food and exercise still making a difference.

    Manolis Kellis, a professor at MIT noted that, having the glitch in your FTO gene does not destine you to become obese but, may predispose you to it. Kellis added that, people with two faulty copies of the FTO gene, one from each parent, weighed an average of 7 pounds more than those without them. While some people were obviously a lot heavier than that, even 7 pounds can be the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy weight.

    Kellis and Claussnitzer are seeking a patent related to the work funded by the German Research Center for Environmental Health and others, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

    While the findings are unlikely to be a magic pill that would enable people to eat anything they want without packing on the pounds, it will target this fat pathway which could affect other things, so a treatment would need rigorous testing to prove safe and effective for humans.

    Contributed by Millennium Traders
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