A genetic fix for obesity?

Suppose a simple genetic fix could allow us humans to gorge on fatty junk foods and avoid obesity.  Something like that has been tried on mice and apparently works according to research reported today(ref).  The idea was to introduce a plant-based genetic pathway in mice that increases metabolism of fatty acids and induces resistance to diet-related obesity.  Certain plants have a set of enzymes called the ‘glyoxylate shunt’ not present in mammals.  A team at UCLA “ —  cloned bacteria genes from Escherichia coli that would enable the shunt, then introduced the cloned E. coli genes into the mitochondria of liver cells in mice; mitochondria are where fatty acids are burned in cells.” 

“The researchers found the glyoxylate shunt cut the energy-generating pathway of the cell in half, allowing the cell to digest the fatty acid much faster than normal.  “Mice expressing the shunt showed resistance to diet-induced obesity on a high-fat diet despite similar food consumption. This was accompanied by a decrease in total fat mass, circulating leptin levels, plasma triglyceride concentration, and a signaling metabolite in liver, malonyl-CoA, that inhibits fatty acid degradation(ref).”

I imagine a similar approach might well work in humans, making us genetically a little more like plants.  I anticipate concerns about the practicality, safety and ethical aspects of such genetic modifications of humans, although the fast food people would probably love to see this one happen.  And it could be a great approach to solving the current obesity epidemic.

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at www.vincegiuliano.com and an extensive site of my art at www.giulianoart.com. Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to vegiuliano@agingsciences.com.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply