Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Potential Cure to Obesity


In 2016 more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide were overweight, and over 650 of them were identified as obese. This ultimately increases a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. All of which are the leading causes of death in America. Due to this ongoing epidemic there have been countless weight management programs, and medications that have been developed in hopes of decreasing these statistics. Unfortunately, when taking weight loss medication there are a considerable number of risks and side effects such as dizziness, nausea, constipation, insomnia, dry mouth, and vomiting. These side effects lead Professor Yon-Hee Kim research how cells use their genetic code to improve weight loss. This was done using CRISPRi, CRISPRi does not alter genetic code permanently, it only inhibits the production of proteins. Ultimately, they had reached 99% of the cells in a cell culture model with the intentions to target fatty acid-binding protein 4 (fabp4). This protein is present in white fat and plasma and is believed to play a role in sugar and insulin metabolism. Previously, it has been proven that the reduction of fabp4 in diabetic mice resulted in lower blood sugar levels as well as in fat and an improvement in insulin metabolism. Ultimately, they were able to reduce the expression level of fabp4 by up to 60%. They then injected obese and diabetic mice and within just 6 weeks the mice astonishingly lost about 20% of their body weight and had lower blood glucose levels without any dietary changes, or lifestyle changes. Overall, researchers used CRISPRi to target fat cells and had a drastic improvement with their weight and type 2 diabetes as a result. I found this interesting because I’m also enrolled in a nutrition class as a holistic health minor and we’re constantly learning about the environmental factors of all of these diseases such as diabetes and it’s intriguing to see the genetic background of these diseases as well. Furthermore, I found it really interesting that CRISPRi is capable of creating mutations in a sense without damaging any DNA or making any permanent changes. It amazes me that they were able to just turn the expression of a gene on and off like a light switch essentially. Lastly, I find it interesting that one edit to a single gene can create such a drastic change once again. 



Image result for crispri Image result for fabp4

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