When you eat more calories than you burn via typical everyday activity such as walking or jogging, you acquire weight. Without a question, obesity or overweight raises one’s chance of acquiring a range of serious illnesses. Consequently, these health problems have an effect on almost every organ and system in the body. Obesity may also have a detrimental effect on your mental health, increasing your risk of depression, decreasing your self-esteem, and creating self-image issues.
The majority of one’s physical characteristics are inherited, but the environment may also have an effect on one’s appearance and weight. People’s growing weight may be attributed to bad eating habits and family traditions that have become more prevalent in modern life.
Alternatively, your weight gain may be the consequence of an underlying medical condition that has yet to be discovered. Weight gain may be caused by a variety of medical problems, including Hypothyroidism, Ageing, Diabetes, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Stress, and Steroid Therapy.
Obesity is a major cause of death and disease, as is the metabolic syndrome that comes along with it. Because of the disease’s enormous toll on individuals and the healthcare system, researchers are focusing their efforts on finding new pharmaceutical targets for the treatment and prevention of obesity.
Research by University of Virginia scientists reveals promising results in the fight against obesity medication development: 14 genes linked to weight growth have been discovered, and three others may help prevent it. The results open the path for the development of therapies for a health issue that affects the majority of adults today.
It’s now known that people with obesity and other illnesses have an increased number of gene variations. Given this ambiguity, it’s difficult to take use of the potential of population genetics to pinpoint treatment or cure targets for weight gain and obesity. Hundreds of genes were tested concurrently for their involvement in obesity to overcome this obstacle. Eyleen O’Rourke of the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Cell Biology at the School of Medicine, and the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center said, “ A large number of genes that cause and three that prevent obesity were discovered during our initial round of research and we expect that our methodology and the additional genes we discovered will expedite the development of therapies to decrease the burden of obesity.”
Overweight and Obesity in the Human Genome
Recent work by O’Rourke sheds insight on how obesity, nutrition, and genetics are all connected. Obesity has spread like wildfire, all due to large part of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup-laden diets. Sedentary behavior is a significant contributor as well. However, our genes also have a significant influence in how much fat we store and how efficiently our systems burn food for energy. If we can find the genes responsible for fat storage, we may be able to stop people from overeating by blocking their activity with medicines.
Scientists have discovered hundreds of genes that are more or less common in obese individuals than in those who are of a healthy weight. The problem is identifying which genes are responsible for weight gain, either by encouraging it or by helping to avoid it. C. elegans worms were used by O’Rourke and her colleagues to separate wheat from chaff throughout the research. These microscopic worms like to dwell on decaying plants where they may feed on microorganisms. More than 70% of their genes are identical to those of humans. They also develop obesity when given an excessive quantity of sugar.
Scientists have greatly benefited from studying worms. They’ve helped scientists figure out how popular medications like Prozac (a antidepressant) and metformin (a glycemic stabilizer) operate. Three Nobel prizes have been given out in the past 20 years for the discovery of cellular mechanisms initially seen in worms but later shown to be important in illnesses like cancer and neurodegeneration. Their contribution to the development of RNA-based therapies cannot be overstated.
Recently, O’Rourke and her colleagues reported their findings in the scientific journal PLOS Genetics. They utilized worms to screen 293 human obesity-related genes in an effort to determine which of the genes was really responsible for or preventive of obesity in humans. In order to do this, the researchers created a worm model of obesity and fed some worms a normal diet while giving others a high-fructose diet.
They were able to discover 14 obesity-causing genes and three obesity-prevention genes using this obesity model in conjunction with automation and supervised machine learning-assisted testing. It’s intriguing to note that inhibiting the activity of three genes that keep worms from becoming fat also makes them live longer and improves their neuro-locomotory function. Anti-obesity medications have the potential to provide these kinds of advantages to pharma companies.
It goes without saying that more work has to be accomplished. However, the results of the study show that the indications are positive. Lab mice that had their weight gain stopped, insulin sensitivity was enhanced, and blood sugar levels were decreased as a result of a gene that was blocked in the study. Furthermore, since the genes under investigation were shown to be linked with obesity in humans, the findings suggest that they will hold true in humans as well, the researchers conclude.
To lessen the cost of obesity on individuals and the healthcare system, O’Rourke stated, “Anti-obesity treatments are urgently required.” As a result of the combination of human genomes and causality testing in model animals, we expect that our anti-obesity targets will be more effective and have fewer adverse effects in clinical trials.