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Skinny genes coming soon? Scientists use CRISPR to reduce fat storage in mice



SEOUL, South Korea – With the advent of CRISPR, an innovative gene editing technology that alters DNA sequences to enhance or calm the expression of specific genes, scientists have sought ways to use the tool to improve health conditions in humans. Now, according to a new study, researchers are able to use CRISPR to reduce the body weight of mice by a staggering 20 percent!

Perhaps even more amazing is that the mice in the study did not decrease their food intake or did not increase exercise and still experience this very significant reduction in fat storage.

To put these results into perspective, the average weight of men and women in the United States is 197.8 pounds and 1

70.5 pounds, respectively, with 40% of adults considered obese. Even a 10% reduction in body weight would allow a person to stay in a healthy range while adhering to their existing diet. Although the results are preliminary, the researchers believe this work could lead to successful treatment in humans, which would reduce heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.

To achieve this amazing effect on weight loss, researchers have used gene-silencing therapy for a fatty acid metabolism gene called Fabp4. With the expression of this gene effectively "off", mice store less fat and have minimal toxicity to their cells. Mice also showed lower indications of type 2 diabetes, including lower glucose levels and less inflammation than mice that had not undergone gene therapy.

Additional studies are needed as the study was performed with only five mice in each of the experimental and control groups. Unfortunately, human trials are probably several years old. As your skinny genes arrive, you may want to stick to foods that have previously been shown to help reduce obesity, such as green tea and nuts.

The study was published in the scientific journal Genome Research.


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