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Obesity Pathway

January 2, 2007

Insights into the genetics of obesity could lead to new drugs.


The lesson of the fat and skinny genes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Last year, a team led by Michael Christman of Boston University found a genetic variant that’s associated with obesity—an obesity gene, so to speak. Now, they may have found a skinny gene as well. This confirms what everyone knows—that obesity and thinness are in part genetic. But Christman says it also points to a new target for anti-obesity drugs.

MICHAEL CHRISTMAN (Boston University):
It turns out that the obesity gene and the skinny gene are two different sites in a related pathway—biochemical pathway—in the body. And what that means is that changes in that pathway may really be major players in human bodyweight determination.

He says pharmaceutical companies are already developing drugs that affect that pathway. If they work, they could help people in their fight to overcome their genetic tendencies. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.