-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report
that they have identified a gene that is tied to severe
They say their findings could lead to new treatments for
The team studied an Israeli Arab family whose members were
severely obese. They found that the family members had a mutation
in a gene that produces a protein called CEP19.
When the researchers deleted this gene in mice, the rodents
became obese and developed diabetes. They also had increased
appetites and burned less energy.
Scientists note, however, that research done in animals often
fails to produce similar results in humans.
The study was published online Nov. 21 in the
American Journal of Human Genetics.
"Starting with gene discovery in a single family with morbid obesity, these studies led to the identification of a gene that seems to be fundamental to regulating nutritional status [body weight]," study co-senior author Dr. John Martignetti, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City, said in a journal news release.
"This gene is shown to be present not only in humans and mice, but also in the simplest known single-cell animal," he said. "Nature considers this gene so important that it has preserved its structure for more than 700 million years."
The specific role of the CEP19 protein in maintaining a balance
between leanness and obesity remains unknown. Further research is
needed to determine how the protein affects appetite control, the
amount of calories the body burns and insulin sensitivity, the
study authors said.
Previous research has indicated that genes play a role in 40
percent to 90 percent of cases of obesity, according to the news
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
overweight and obesity.
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