One group of mice did not have the TRIP-BR2 gene: image via wikipedia.orgA scientific breakthrough, something obese and overweight people have only dreamed about, has been made at the University of Florida's (UF) Sid Martin Biotechnology Development Institute, where Dr. Stephen Hsu and his research team have identified a 'fat gene' called TRIP-Br2. When the team controlled the expression of this gene in mice, the mice were unable to gain weight, no matter how much they ate.
When the TRIP-BR2 protein is operating normally, it controls the amount of fat we store, but when too much TRIP-Br2 is produced, obesity is the result. In the UF experiments, two groups of mice were fed diets very high in fat. While the normal mice became more and more obese the more they ate, mice bred without the TRIP-Br2 gene could not gain weight no matter how much they ate.
Hsu explains that TRIP-Br2 is a fat storage protein like several others, but TRIP-Br2 is unique in that it regulates how cells burn fat. "When TRIP-Br2 is absent, fat cells dramatically increase the release of free fatty acids and also burn fat to produce the molecular fuel called ATP that powers mitochondria — the cell’s energy source. In addition, cells free from the influence of TRIP-Br2 start using free fatty acids to generate thermal energy, which protects the body from exposure to cold."
“TRIP-Br2 is important for the accumulation of fat,” said Dr. Rohit N. Kulkarni, also a senior author of the paper and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Joslin Diabetes Center. “When an animal lacks TRIP-Br2, it can’t accumulate fat.”
But if the gene could be phamacologically regulated and the amount of TRIP-Br2 released by our fat cells could be controlled, that would be ideal - not only for obese persons, but for those with a propensity to gain weight. Persons whose medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, would be exacerbated by weight gain, would also benefit greatly from such a drug.
Have the researchers discovered the Fountain of Thin?
The next step in this very hopeful research is to determine whether the findings in mice are translatable to humans.
source: University of Florida News via News Medical