Researchers have discovered a new genetic mutation that may be linked to obesity in humans, Medical Daily reported.
In a study published in the journal Cell, researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of 2,201 adults with severe early-onset obesity. Overall, researchers discovered that 1 percent of the obese patients had a mutated version of the gene KSR2, which has been previously associated with regulating energy balance and metabolism in mice.
Patients who had a mutated version of the gene demonstrated increased appetites during childhood, lower heart rates and basal metabolic rates, and strong insulin resistance. Furthermore, patients with the mutated gene were more likely to become obese at a very young age.
“You would be hungry and wanting to eat a lot. You would not want to move because of a slower metabolism and would probably also develop type 2 diabetes at a young age,” lead researcher Sadaf Farooqi, a professor of metabolism and medicine at Cambridge University, told the BBC. “It slows the ability to burn calories, and that’s important as it’s a new explanation for obesity.”
The researchers hope to someday develop targeted therapies that could help treat people with genetic mutations that predispose them to obesity.
“This work adds to a growing body of evidence that genes play a major role in influencing a person’s weight and may be useful for developing new ways to treat people who are heavy and develop diabetes,” Farooqi said in the statement.