Study Could Lead to New Obesity Treatments

A study led by Dr. Joan C. Han, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and founding director of the UT-Le Bonheur Pediatric Obesity Program, could lead to new approaches for the prevention and treatment of obesity based on individual genetic characteristics.

The study, funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health and published in the online issue of the journal “Cell Reports,” identified a natural variation in the brain-derived neurotropic factor gene. Previously linked to obesity, that gene is known to influence the feeling of fullness, thereby regulating appetite.

The genetic variation reduces levels of BDNF, blocking feelings of fullness, and thus may lead to obesity.

The investigators analyzed brain tissue samples from cadavers to identify the variation. They then studied BDNF in four groups of people enrolled in national clinical research studies.

The results confirmed the variation is linked to obesity, and occurs across the population, but tends to occur more frequently in African Americans and Hispanics.

The study authors suggest that boosting BDNF levels may serve as a therapy for those with the genetic variation.

By Andy Meek

Source: Memphis Daily News –