Jun 30, 2020
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Scientists have found a possible “gene for thinness”

The authors of a new study proposed an original approach to studying the problem of excess weight. They turned not to the genetics of obesity, but to the genetic factor of thinness.

Everyone has a friend who can eat anything, not exercise, but not gain weight. Perhaps a new study published in cell, partially helps explain this phenomenon.

Scientists have discovered that certain gene mutations Alk (anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene) can help maintain normal weight.

Previously, changes in this gene were associated only with an increased risk of certain malignant tumors. Researchers have now discovered two gene variants. Alk, which are found only in thin people (with a low body mass index), but are not detected even with normal weight. For this, the authors of the study analyzed the DNA of more than 47 thousand people aged 20 to 44 years. They received the data in the Estonian biobank.

“Most scientists study obesity and the genetics of obesity. We just “turned” everything and studied thinness, opening a new area for research, ”said Joseph Penninger

Scientists conducted a separate part of the study on animals. It turned out that mice in which the ALK gene is turned off, the weight and amount of fat in the body is below average, even when overfeeding.

In humans, experiments that prove the role of the gene in maintaining thinness, scientists have not conducted. Therefore, at present, it can be stated that certain variants of the ALK gene are associated with low weight, but it cannot be stated that they are its cause.

Scientists report that this gene is strongly expressed in the brain, its effect is associated with the regulation of the amount of fat in the body.

The authors of the study indicate that it is theoretically possible to use disabling the ALK gene to prevent or treat obesity. In the treatment of cancer, drugs that suppress it are already being used.

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