12:45 GMT13 August 2020
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    Advances in gene-editing technology can be used to “turn” off genes for fatty acid metabolism, thereby preventing fat storage and reducing obesity, a new study published in the journal Genome Research finds.

    In the study, researchers from Hanyang University in South Korea used CRISPR and the Cas9 enzyme to turn off Fabp4, a fatty acid metabolism gene, in mice. 

    Editing of CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats, is a technique that involves activating or repressing genes along a DNA sequence.

    When the Fabp4 gene was switched off using this method, the mice in the study experienced “reduction of body weight and inflammation,” according to the study’s abstract. In fact, the mice that underwent gene therapy experienced a 20% reduction of body fat in just six weeks.  

    The mice that underwent gene therapy also had lower glucose levels, reduced fatty lipid deposition in the liver and no indications of type 2 diabetes compared to mice that did not undergo the gene-editing procedure.

    According to researchers, the health improvements were achieved without the reduction in food or having the mice undergo any exercise treatments.

    Additional research needs to be conducted, because the study involved only five mice in each of the experimental and control groups. The findings, however, are promising and could eventually be used to treat the currently incurable type 2 diabetes, as well as reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer, which are all linked to obesity.

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