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Obesity gene changes found


Scientists have discovered two gene mutations common to Europeans which could affect obesity rates in the continent.

According to research published in Nature Genetics, the mutations affect the production of several hormones controlling our appetite.

The PCSK1 gene regulates the proconvertase enzyme, which is responsible for producing hormones such as insulin, glugagon and melanocortin. These are all involved in controlling the rate of metabolism.

Changes in the PCSK1 gene cause relatively minor abnormalities in the proconvertase enzyme that it codes for. But the effect on the hormones is significant, as they all play a major role in regulating weight.

Scientists from Imperial College London, in collaboration with teams from France, Denmark, Sweden and Germany, found a connection between the PCSK1 mutations and the frequency of obesity in adults and children.

Lead author professor Philippe Froguel, from the French National Research Institute, said: “This is the first time that we have found a strong link between common mutations and common obesity in the PCSK1 gene.”

“We know that common forms of obesity depend on variations in multiple genes, so this is an important addition to the list of genes we need to consider as therapeutic targets for treatment in the future.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

Imperial College London

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