Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Obesity crisis

Obesity may be thought of as Australia’s biggest current health crisis. Recently, much research and analysation has gone into understanding how adenovirus-36 functions and how it is thought to be responsible for some cases of obesity, due to the fact it causes fat cells to grow.
Dr. Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, a university professor at Louisiana State University at Baton Rogue published details about the adipogenic effect of the human adenovirus-36 on laboratory animals, and also its association with human obesity. He coined this term infectobesity. He was able to show that a single viral gene triggers this process and put forward that in the future it may be possible to treat ‘viral obesity’, simply by altering the action of this particular gene.
Along with his highly qualified team, he engineered stem cells taken from human fat to express a single gene, adenovirus-36, named called E4 ORF-1. Through results it was seen that these cells were more likely to differentiate into fat cells, in comparison to those cells that did not express the gene. When blocking the E4 ORF-1 expression in cells infected by adenovirus-36, the cells failed to differentiate into fat cells. From these results it was thought that this gene is both necessary and sufficient for fat cell differentiation. Therefore through blocking the E4 ORF-1 expression in humans would prevent adenovirus-36 induced obesity. Along with this, the gene seems to become more responsive to insulin, suggesting that drugs that copy this part of the gene’s action may be used to treat sufferers of type 2 diabetes.

From issue 2650 of New Scientist magazine, 04 April 2008, page 15

Posted by Ashta Murugesan

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