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article imageObesity may have a ‘genetic link’

By Tim Sandle     Jan 31, 2014 in Health
A research group have identified five new genes associated with increased waist-to-hip ratio, potentially moving science a step closer to developing a medication to treat obesity or obesity-related diseases.
One measure of obesity is an increase in the waist-to-hip ratio. Here excess abdominal fat can be a precursor to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer. This is one reason why the control and reduction of obesity is an important medical issue.
To see if some people are more at risk from obesity than others, a research group conducted analysis of more than 57,000 people, and searched for genes that increase risk of high waist-to-hip ratio, independent of overall obesity. They investigated over 50,000 genetic variants in 2,000 genes thought to be involved in cardiovascular or metabolic traits.
The analysis showed something: the study identified three new genes associated with increased waist-to-hip ratio in both men and women, and discovered two new genes that appear to affect waist-to-hip ratio in women only. Of the latter, one gene, SHC1, appears to interact with 17 other proteins known to have involvement in obesity, and is highly expressed in fat tissue.
The implication of the research is that if scientists can find a way to fine-tune the expression of this gene, then it could potentially be possible to reduce the risk of excessive fat in the mid-section. Such a treatment is, of course, several years away.
The research team was led by Kira Taylor, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. The findings have been published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, in a paper titled “Gene-centric meta-analyses for central adiposity traits in up to 57,412 individuals of European descent confirm known loci and reveal several novel associations.”
More about Obesity, Genes, Genetic, Fat
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