Human enzyme keeps mice thinner

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A human enzyme helped boost the metabolism of mice and slowed their weight gain even with a high-fat diet, researchers from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital and several Chinese academic institutions have shown.

The finding, published online in the journal Endocrinology and slated for print publication in January, offers another clue about how obesity and diabetes--a frequent byproduct of severe weight gain--could be treated in the future. Obesity commonly leads to inflammation and then insulin resistance, researchers believe.

Scientists engineered male and female mice to express the gene IKKbeta to induce inflammation in their fatty tissue before they were obese, and compared them over time with genetically unaltered mice. They all started at the same weight, but 22 weeks on a high-fat diet led to significantly slower weight gain in the genetically altered mice. A healthier diet narrowed the weight-gain gap, researchers said, but the genetically altered mice still gained less.

The genetically altered mice maintained higher metabolisms versus their unaltered brethren and also showed lower blood sugar levels even with glucose injections.

One drawback, however: IKKbeta also caused widespread inflammation overall. The American Heart Association and Brown University funded the research.

- here's the release
- read the paper's abstract

Special Report: Obesity drugs: Where are we now?

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