A science writer has discovered a new way to track down and predict the health of your body.
The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
It involves studying the DNA of people with Down syndrome, which has no known gene for obesity.
The scientists identified two genes that are thought to be involved in obesity and the genes are different in Down syndrome and the normal population.
They say they believe this is because of a genetic change in the Down syndrome gene that changes how genes work.
“This is a big breakthrough because it opens the door to discovering a whole new way of understanding how we get fat and whether or not we’re getting a disease,” said lead researcher, James Prentice, a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley.
His team, led by UC Berkeley geneticist Shauna Wray, looked at genes that control how fat is stored in the body.
For their study, they looked at DNA extracted from the body of 20 people with and without Down syndrome.
While they found that some genes involved in fat storage were different in the normal and Down syndrome populations, the genes were different for both.
“What we’re seeing is that the two genetic pathways in Down and normal people are very similar and it’s possible that one pathway is just very different,” Dr Wray said.
This discovery could lead to new ways to treat Down syndrome patients, Dr WRAY said.
“If this was just a random finding, we would be thinking about just one person and not worrying about the potential effects of any other genes that might be involved,” she said.
Dr Wray is also an associate professor of medicine at the UC Berkeley Department of Medicine.
“I think the more interesting implication of this study is that we can now look at genes for different kinds of diseases in different populations,” she added.
Dr Wrey said her research involved examining the genetic sequences of about 2,500 people, from the UK and around the world.
There are more than 100,000 people with the condition and about 60 per cent of them are males.
She said the team looked at the DNA from the people’s DNA and compared it with the genetic code of the rest of the population.
They found the people who were most obese were those with Down Syndrome and those with a higher mutation in the gene for adiponectin.
It means these people were less likely to have a low fat storage gene.
Previous studies had shown that Down syndrome carriers were more likely to be overweight than the rest, Dr Prentice said.
In addition, they found a number of genes were also associated with obesity in the people with high body mass index.
However, these genes were not linked to fat storage.
“They’re not linked with the genes that cause obesity, so we can’t say that it’s a genetic disease,” Dr Pender said.
But Dr Wry said the findings would help doctors in their work to identify people who are more likely than others to have the condition.
“We know that obesity and obesity-related conditions are associated with a number different genes and we know that this is a common genetic condition, but we still don’t know how many people have the mutation in those genes,” Dr Kowal said.
The findings could lead people with an excess of fat cells to develop type 2 diabetes, diabetes-related heart disease and other conditions, Dr Koo said.
He said there were two ways of looking at this and the results would be valuable to scientists trying to understand the genetics of the disease.
“This could provide an early indication of the genes we need to target for the prevention of those diseases,” he said.
For the study, Drs Wray and Prentice used a gene called MHC class I, which is the same as the one that determines obesity.
The MHC genes are located on a chromosome called the X chromosome and they are responsible for regulating genes.
Professor Prentice is an associate member of UC Berkeley’s Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology.
He is also the co-director of the UC Bering Institute for Genomic Medicine.
He says the research has implications for the development of drugs to help treat people with obesity.
“There is a lot of interest in gene therapy for obesity, but the genetic basis of the genetic mutations associated with those diseases is not well understood,” he explained.
“In our study, we are able to identify a specific genetic mutation that is associated with these diseases.”
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