Finding the Fat Mouse Gene

(May, 2013) During a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, School of Medicine researchers led by James McManaman, PhDdiscovered that deleting a specific gene in mice prevents them from becoming obese even on a high-fat diet.

“When fed a diet that induces obesity, these mice don’t get fat,” says McManaman, vice chairman of research for Obstetrics and Gynecology at the School of Medicine. “It may be possible to duplicate this in humans using existing technology that targets this specific gene.”

The researchers created a strain of mice without a gene that produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism. They found that the mice were resistant to obesity.

“It could mean that we have finally discovered a way to disrupt obesity in humans,” McManaman says. “That would be a major breakthrough.”

McManaman was the lead author of the study’s findings, which were published in February in The Journal of Lipid Research. Co-authors include David Orlicky, PhD; Paul MacLean, PhD, associate professors at the School of Medicine; and Andrew Greenberg, MD, senior scientist and director of The Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University.


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