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Scientists find key 'fat gene'

Published on Mar 13, 2014 4:30 AM

PARIS (AFP) - Geneticists said Wednesday they had pinpointed the most important obesity gene yet, throwing up a possible target for drugs to tackle a dangerous and growing epidemic.

Mice bred to lack a gene dubbed IRX3 were almost a third lighter than rodents with the gene, they said. The equivalent gene exists in humans, and its functioning may explain why some people are more prone to obesity than others.

"Our data strongly suggests that IRX3 controls body mass and regulates body composition," said Marcelo Nobrega of the University of Chicago, who headed the investigation published in the journal Nature.

It likely does so by regulating metabolism. The discovery may help solve a riddle that has confounded researchers delving into the genetics of girth.

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