Scientists now closer to anti-fat pill

January 12, 2009 5:39:18 PM PST
The New Year is underway and many people are planning to lose a little weight.

If you are looking for a magic fat-burning pill, it does not exist. But now, the possibility for one does.

Berkeley researchers have uncovered a key enzyme in the battle of the bulge. Manipulating it enabled laboratory mice to eat a high-fat diet but keep the weight off.

In our sedentary society there is a traditional method for keeping off extra pounds. We work, sweat and just think about food. Yet, more than half of Americans are overweight. One-in-four is clinically obese.

Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered a genetic cause; an enzyme called ADLPA, for short. ADLPA stands for "Adipose-specific phopholipase a2."

"Everyone has the gene, but what I would predict is that in obese humans, that they would probably have higher amounts of this gene," explains researcher Maryam Ahmadeian.

Maryam Ahmadeian and Dr. Robin Duncan enineered a group of mouse and removed the enzyme from them which inhibits the burning of fat. Then, they offered the mice all they could eat.

All the mice knew was that they were hungry all the time. So, they ate, and ate, and ate, and ate some more. In fact, they ate the equivalent of going through a buffet line 40 times a day.

Yet, the mice never gained weight. Even the heaviest of the mice lost weight.

The hope is that with further study gene therapy might become a weapon in fighting obesity.

"For them this may be very promising, especially because we know there are so many diseased linked to extreme weight gain," said Duncan.

It would be years before such a treatment hit the market. So, if you are looking for a miracle anti-fat pill, keep your gym membership.