Scientists Discover Genetic Pathway to Promote Fat Loss

New research out of UCLA indicates that genetic engineering techniques could trick the body’s cells into burning more fat.

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Those atomic scientists – they think they’re so smart. Yet the actual physics behind nuclear energy is relatively simple. You split an atom; it breaks into smaller parts; a chain reaction occurs; pow – you’ve got one heck of a lot of energy. That’s really all there is to it.

The process of metabolism in the human body, however – now that’s complicated.

Metabolism is the process that your body’s cells perform as they burn off the cheeseburger and tater tots you just ate.

The complexity of human metabolism makes nuclear physics look like Sudoku by comparison. But two scientists at UCLA have made a fascinating discovery about how metabolism works. According to their research, it may be possible to use genetic engineering techniques to trick the cells within a mammal’s body into burning more fat.

The “trick” is called the glyoxylate shunt. Although it sounds like that crazy new dance all the kids are doing, it’s actually a metabolic process centered on two enzymes called glyoxylates.

Genes that cause glyoxylates to appear in the cells are found in the DNA of certain kinds of plants, and in bacteria, such as E. coli, but not in the DNA of mammals, including humans.

When introduced into the tissues of mammals, glyoxolate enzymes usually prevent the cells from completely burning off fat – but when the UCLA research team injected mice with the enzymes, a whole new molecular channel, or “shunt” for fat burning, suddenly came on line in their cells – something no one expected.

The mice displaying this molecular shunt were then fed a high fat diet, but they did not get fat.

Thanks to the glyoxylate shunt, their cells had become super-efficient at burning off excess fat – and thus at controlling obesity.

The study’s lead researchers think the glyoxylate shunt could work in human cells. But for now, they’re only interested in the process from a scientific point of view, not as a strategy for the treatment of obesity.

Research is certain to continue, however, and when new discoveries are made, you’ll hear it here first.

2 Responses

  1. Annie Hoy

    why not just encourage people to stop eating the junkfood that makes them fat!!! This is a very disturbing development.

  2. Dr. Sanae Tanaka

    As scientific knowledge, if the research can be replicated, it definitely will be written up into textbooks and taught in classes within a year or two.
    However, whatever is on the research table, will take YEARS, if ever, before it arrives on the physician’s table and become clinically applicable.
    Such is the destiny of all *breaktrhough* discoveries.


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