CU Researchers One Step Closer To Combating Obesity

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Researchers at the University of Colorado are one step closer to combating obesity. They’ve created a strain of mice that don’t get fat.

A team of researchers found the mice can eat a high-fat diet without getting fat because the researchers have deleted a specific gene. They believe it may be possible to replicate the effect in humans.

In a lab at the University of Colorado School of Medicine some mice were fed a diet guaranteed to make them fat.

“Sixty percent of their diet was in fat compared to a normal mouse which probably 60 percent of their diet is in carbohydrates,” said CU School of Medicine Professor James McManaman, Ph.D.

Usually a mouse fed a high-fat diet would eat voraciously but not the CU mice.

“Rather than overeating they just ate a normal amount,” said McManaman.

McManaman and his research team created a strain of mice without the gene “plin 2.”

Plin 2 produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism. Researchers discovered that deleting it in mice prevents them from becoming obese.

When asked if blocking the gene increases metabolism, McManaman replied, “We think that’s a possibility.”

More than one-third of adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese.

Humans have the same plin 2 gene.

“It could lead to a potential cure,” said McManaman.

He said it’s too early to tell but it may be possible to replicate this research in humans.

“We don’t know what the long term consequences of deleting this gene would be for mice or humans but this is a step in the right direction,” said McManaman.

The two-year study on plin 2 was funded by a federal grant. Eight people were on the team of researchers. McManaman already has people volunteering to be guinea pigs for the human study.

He said any results are 15 years away.

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