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Obesity Pill Right Around the Corner?

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 17, 2008 11:35 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Obesity, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Diabetes, Drug Products

Merck is using DNA researchto help it develop an anti-obesity pill, which could bring in billions.


  • Merck news release on its research here 
  • Iceland study in Nature here 
  • Mice study in Nature here
  • Injuryboard on obesity here 
  • Injuryboard on diabetes here 

WikiMedia Commons/ Boochan 

Imagine taking a pill to cure the ill of obesity? 

Scientists say it might be available in a decade as they gain more understanding in how genetics factor into weight gain.

So far three new genes linked with weight gain have been discovered as well as how the genes work together in networks to increase the likelihood you will be overweight. 

Finding the genes responsible for appetite, digestion and creating fat stores makes it much more likely that anti-obesity drugs can be created to fight the fat.

Two studies are reported in the journal Nature.

Overeating causes obesity, diabetes and heart disease, that is already known. But this new research shows obesity also disrupts individual genes and how they work in a network

In the first study by Merck, mice were fed a high-fat diet. They then were used to identify genetic variation associated with obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis or clogged arteries, the so-called metabolic syndrome many obese also have.  

They took genes from a mouse liver and fat stores to determine three new genes Lpl, Pmp1l and Lactb that play a direct role in obesity.

Eric Schadt, executive director of Genetics at Merck Research Laboratories says that hundreds of genes are disrupted with this diet.

"This network is completely rocked by exposure to a high-fat, Western-type diet," Schadt said who adds that obesity appears to originate in the immune system, when it is not involved in fighting infection. 

Merck Research Labs looked at the genetic makeup from more than 1,000 people susceptible to obesity because of a family history. A computer matched data on gene interactions in the obese individual and compares them to other individuals.  

Gene expression involved with obesity was found to be casually related to the mouse study. 

This study shows that people with higher body mass index have those patterns of gene use in their fatty tissues.

Despite your genetic makeup, researchers admit that diet and exercise still work to keep weight down. 

However for those who don't want to hit the gym, researchers hope to identify why you are obese and what underlying molecular cause may keep you fat, helping doctors determine what pill might best be targeted to your obesity. #

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