Friday, April 12, 2013

Genes behind severe childhood obesity identified

Recently. a new genome wide study has identified four new genetic variants associated with severe childhood obesity. Researchers also found an increased burden of rare structural variations in severely obese children.

The scientific team found that structural variations can delete sections of DNA that help to maintain protein receptors known to be involved in the regulation of weight. These receptors are promising targets for the development of new drugs against obesity.

As one of the major health issues affecting modern societies, obesity has increasingly received public attention. Genes, behavior and environment, all contribute to the development of obesity.

Children with severe obesity are more likely to have a strong genetic contribution. This study has enhanced understanding of how both common and rare variants around specific genes and genetic regions are involved in severe childhood obesity.

The team found that different genes could be involved in severe childhood obesity compared to obesity in adults.

Rare genetic changes in one of the newly associated genes, LEPR, are known to cause a severe form of early onset obesity. The team identified a more common variant in this gene, found in 6 per cent of the population that can increase a person's risk of obesity. This finding is an example of where rare and more common variations around the same gene or region can influence the risk of severe obesity.

Some of the children in this study had an increased number of structural variations of their DNA that delete G-protein coupled receptors, important receptors in the regulation of weight. These receptors are key targets for current drug development and may have potential therapeutic implications for obesity.

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Genes behind severe childhood obesity identified

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