A study by scientists at the University of Flinders (Australia) and the Southwest Medical Center in Texas (USA) claims to have managed to keep mice from gaining weight despite eating nonstop. The landmark was achieved by the elimination of the RCAN1 gene, key in the production of body fat.
The gene acts as an inhibitor of all metabolic processes that turn fat into body heat. When scientists "turned off" these mice, they found that rodents started to burn more calories – they produce more body heat – than before and to be more resilient. Hence the weight gain.
For the time being, the experiment was only performed on mice, although the study authors point out that the results obtained have all that is needed to create a medical therapy aimed at obese people.
"We know that many people try to lose weight or, for a number of reasons, simply control it. The results of this research may be a first step for a pill that focuses on the function of RCAN1 and that reduces weight," says Professor Damien Keating, one of the authors of the study.
In the human body there are two types of fats: white and brown. The body uses white – precisely those that are more visible and less aesthetic – to store energy and, brown, to burn them and thus generate body heat. The future pill would convert white fat into brown fat.
Scientists are clear that further studies are needed to determine that the same result is obtained in humans.
The weight loss pills just around the corner?