Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could treat yourself to all of the delicious foods that your heart desires without having to worry about piling on the pounds? If you could give in to fast-food snacks, cheese-filled souffles, and chocolate-rich desserts, and still get to keep your figure?
According to Science Daily, this might be possible in the near future.
In a spectacular breakthrough, researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, have isolated a gene that — when inhibited — allows you to eat as much as you want without getting fat.
The scientists stumbled upon this find while screening the genome of lab mice in search for genes that might be involved in the onset of obesity. Their end-goal was to detect gene candidates that could inspire a drug therapy meant to curb obesity.
Their efforts led to the discovery of a previously unknown fact about a gene called RCAN1. As it turned out, when this gene was switched off in mice, it allowed the subjects to eat to their heart’s content without expanding their waist.
The experiment revealed that, in the absence of this gene, the rodents no longer gained any weight despite eating a fat-rich diet and “gorging on high-fat foods for prolonged periods” of time.
“We looked at a variety of different diets with various timespans from eight weeks up to six months, and in every case, we saw health improvements in the absence of the RCAN1 gene,” said team leader Prof. Damien Keating, who published the results in the journal EMBO reports.
As he explains, the purpose of this research is not to encourage gluttony, but to offer hope for diabetics and people struggling with obesity. His team’s idea is to translate this discovery in the development of a pill that would target the RCAN1 gene and inhibit its function — in hopes that this could, in turn, result in weight loss.
“We have already developed a series of drugs that target the protein that this gene makes, and we are now in the process of testing them to see if they inhibit RCAN1 and whether they might represent potential new anti-obesity drugs,” Keating pointed out.
So, how can turning off the RCAN1 gene help people to lose weight? The research uncovered that, when this gene is blocked, the body begins to convert unhealthy white fat — which is the type of adipose tissue that stores energy — into healthy brown fat that burns energy instead.
In theory, a weight loss pill that harnesses this mechanism could help people burn more calories even while they’re resting — and ultimately shave off pounds without necessarily dieting and hitting the gym.
“These results show we can potentially make a real difference in the fight again obesity,” said Keating.
Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population is struggling with obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, obesity rates have gone up in the last two years in seven U.S. states, the Inquisitr recently reported.
Aside from weight gain, obesity is associated with a host of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and breathing problems, notes the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration.