Obesity "Master Switch" Gene Found
Obesity has been linked to a gene that scientists are calling a "master switch" for the disease.
British researchers announced that the discovery of KLF14 in a study published in the journal Nature Genetics. The gene had already been identified in conjunction with obesity and type 2 diabetes, but the study demonstrated that KLF14 controls other genes that determine body mass index, obesity, cholesterol, insulin and glucose levels.
"This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes," Tim Spector of King's College London, who led the study, told Reuters.
"KLF14 seems to act as a master switch controlling processes that connect changes in the behavior of subcutaneous fat to disturbances in muscle and liver that contribute to diabetes and other conditions," Mark McCarthy, from Britain's Oxford University, who also worked on the study, told Reuters.
"We are working hard…to understand these processes and how we can use this information to improve treatment of these conditions."
One in ten adults worldwide are obese. This figure has doubled since the 1980s as the disease continues to spread from wealthier countries into developing nations. In the United States, obesity-related disease account for almost 10 percent of medical spending-approximately $147 billion a year.