Do you stay away from cheesy pizzas, french fries and ice creams for fear of weight gain? What if it was possible to eat all you can and still not gain weight, even without exercise? Too good to be true? A recently published research study has shown just that.
Mice that were fed excess calories did not gain weight- thanks to a new technology called gene silencing.
With rising incidence of obesity-driven diseases worldwide, research is being directed at finding solutions to obesity. One key area of obesity research is understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of obesity and devising long term and easy-to-implement solutions.
Gene silencing is emerging as a leading candidate technology in countering obesity.
What is gene silencing?
Gene silencing is the term used to describe switching off a certain gene and preventing it from producing an effect. Genetic variants influence how often and how much we snack, whether we prefer sweet foods or even how we respond to fats in our diet with respect to weight gain.
The way this works is quite simple; genes code for proteins such as the enzymes associated with absorption of nutrients, hormones that trigger hunger pangs and even taste receptors present on the tongue that influence our preferences for certain foods.
It follows naturally that if these aspects can be controlled somehow, then feeding behavior and food metabolism can be altered to our advantage.
A study conducted by scientists from Flinders University, Australia, showed that knockout mice without the RCAN1 gene did not gain weight even when fed high fat food.
RCAN1 gene is associated with weight gain in mice and when this gene was removed, the mice were more efficient at converting white fat into brown energy-burning fat– this happened even when the animal was resting.
So the mice ate all they wanted but still didn’t gain weight- even without exercise.
What does RCAN1 do?
RCAN1 gene prevents loss of calories as heat and instead promotes their storage as fat. This was probably beneficial during ancient times of limited food resources.
The scientists are now working to find out if silencing the gene using drugs could produce the same effect in humans.
They have begun trials to identify if these gene silencing drugs could work as potential anti-obesity drugs but it could take a while before such a drug is available, as possible side effects need to be determined as well.
A pill that lets you eat all you want but still helps you maintain your weight may be available in future. Such discoveries are possible by understanding the genetic mechanisms behind weight gain.
Identifying genetic variants can also help us adapt our dietary habits to our genetic makeup for better weight maintenance.
Xcode’s nutrition report provides information on eating behaviour, response to macronutrients, micronutrient needs, certain food intolerances and more than 33 such traits.
The best part is that you don’t have to do a DNA test all over again if you already have. Just use your raw data from your ancestry genetic test for a re-analysis.