An international team has studied how a gene called RCAN1 affects weight gain in laboratory mice. Experiments have shown that when this gene is removed from rodents, they can continue to eat high-calorie foods for prolonged periods, without gaining weight.
Professor Damien Keating of Flinders University, who leads the research, believes that this discovery could lead to the development of a human drug that allows weight control.
“We know that many people struggle to lose weight or even control their weight for several different reasons. The findings of this study could mean the development of a pill that focuses on the function of RCAN1 and those results in weight loss,” he said. Professor Keating.
Obesity is a global epidemic. The United States and Mexico are the countries with the highest rates of obesity in the world; more than 30% of the population of North America suffers from this health problem.
The consequences are serious for those who suffer from it; it is known that being overweight leads to greater risks of suffering from type two diabetes and heart problems, diseases that shorten the lives of millions of people. Until now, public policies to combat this 21st-century malaria have not seemed to have the expected effects.
Blocking the RCAN1 gene could be the solution that the medical community and health officials have been looking for decades. The way it works, explains Professor Keating, has to do with the two types of fats that exist in the body.
Brown fat helps create immediate energy for the body, while white fat becomes a reserve. Keating hopes to be able to transform the white fat that accumulates in our bodies, causing the referred problems, in energy.
So far, some drugs have been developed that act on the proteins that this gene creates, but they are still in the process of testing whether they can inhibit the gene itself and whether they can become a safe treatment for obesity
“Based on our results, the drugs we are developing to block the RCAN1 gene would burn more calories while people are resting, which means that the body stores are less fat without the need for a person to reduce their food intake or exercise more”.
The researchers have received funding from the Australian Government, whose population is also among those suffering from more obesity.