The geeks in the lab coats think that they have discovered the Holy Grail of pharmaceuticals:

A Diet Pill that actually works.

Well, sort of.

In a new study, published in the August 31 online edition of Nature Medicine, scientists from the Salk Institute of Biological Studies claim to have identified a genetic master switch for obesity.

This switch, known as TORC1, is designed to turn on a variety of genes in the body.

One of those genes (CARTCocaine and Amphetamine Regulated Transcript) is designed to shut down our appetite for food.

The researchers believe that subtle mutations in TORC1 may result in an inherited risk factor for obesity.

They also believe that “tweaking mutated and inefficient TORC genes may be possible through drug therapy”. “TORC1 is regulated by phosphate handling enzymes called kinases, and kinases often make for very good drug targets”.

So What Does This Mean?

  • A defective TORC1 gene seems to have a role in determining human obesity.
  • Researchers have no idea how prevalent defective TORC1 genes are in the human population.
  • A lot of research needs to be done to determine the prevalence of TORC1 mutation in the human population.
  • If it is determined that TORC1 plays a significant role in human obesity, research into a cure will begin.
  • Initial research will be performed on mice.
  • IF, IF, IF…

In the Meantime…

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References

Salk Institute. “New Master Switch Found In Brain Regulates Appetite And Reproduction.” ScienceDaily 2 September 2008. 2 September 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/08/080831151343.htm>.