Navigation Links
Key to 'curing' obesity may lie in worms that destroy their own fat: McGill researchers
Date:12/8/2008

This release is available in French.

A previously unknown mutation discovered in a common roundworm holds the promise of new treatments for obesity in humans, McGill University researchers say. Their study was published Dec. 3 in the journal Nature, and was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

In lean times, a normal Caenorhabditis elegans worm goes into a form of suspended animation called "dauer" that slows its metabolism and allows it to survive for extended periods without food.

"When they go into dauer, these worms radically alter their metabolism," said Dr. Richard Roy, a cancer researcher at McGill's Department of Biology specializing in the control of cell division. "They shut down everything energy-consuming, which includes foraging, cell division and reproduction."

Unlike other "hibernating" organisms, C. elegans maintains a degree of mobility during dauer by stocking up on energy in the form of fats or lipids which they store in special cells or reserves.

"This allows them to live up to six months without eating, instead of the two weeks they would otherwise have," Roy explained. A worm with the newly discovered mutation, however, will usually die within a week of going into dauer

"These mutants somehow cannot shut down the process of cell division, which is why we noticed them in the first place," Roy said. "However, that's not what kills them. They cannot adjust their metabolism correctly. They store up their six-month lipid reserves, but as soon as they shift into dauer they use them up within a few days. This is because they lack an enzyme that blocks the activity of a very important triglyceride lipase. Without this regulation the lipase burns up all the fat it encounters and destroys the worm's energy reserves."

This discovery was a near-accidental by-product of Roy's regular line of research, searching for cells that abnormally disobey cellular signals in a cancer context, and he gives graduate student and study first author Patrick Narbonne much of the credit.

"Patrick was absolutely brilliant. He was so observant that he noticed these animals were dying way too early, and he also realized that they were not dying because of the cell-division issue."

Roy and Narbonne believe this discovery, which will require considerable additional research, may have significant long-term implications for human health.

"I think we should start looking at the enzymes involved in this cascade, particularly in obese individuals. They are likewise accumulating lipids, but in a reverse situation to C. elegans, this enzyme isn't recognizing it, or something is blocking its function. We're making the case that we can uncouple this enzyme from its normal regulation. If we could develop drugs to do that selectively in fatty tissue, we'd be able to chew up all the fat."

"This study fascinates me," said Dr. Robert Sladek, one of Canada's most prominent diabetes researchers, affiliated to the McGill Department of Human Genetics and the McGill and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre. "It will be exciting to see whether this pathway that controls energy storage and lifespan in worms plays a similar role in humans. The implications for patients with obesity and diabetes might be quite far-reaching."


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Securing the future of Europes biological data resources
2. Childrens National convenes first childhood obesity symposium
3. Persistent pollutant may promote obesity
4. Adiponectin is a metabolic link between obesity and bone mineral density
5. UNC study: Text messaging may help children fight off obesity
6. 15-state Southern obesity summit to focus on deadly epidemic
7. A new weapon in the fight against obesity and diabetes
8. Scientists from Granada find a potential treatment to prevent diabetes and obesity
9. Color My Pyramid nutrition education program battles obesity in DC schools
10. Making metabolism more inefficient can reduce obesity
11. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/4/2017)... VEGAS , Jan. 4, 2017  CES ... performance biometric sensor technology, today announced the launch ... sensor systems, the highly-accurate biometric sensor modules ... biometric technology, experience and expertise. The two ... Benchmark designed specifically for hearables, and Benchmark BW2.0, ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... N.C. and GENEVA, Dec, 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... biometric data sensor technology, and STMicroelectronics ... the spectrum of electronics applications, announced today the ... development kit for biometric wearables that includes ST,s ... with Valencell,s Benchmark™ biometric sensor system. ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... , December 15, 2016 Arvato ... an agreement with NuData Security, an award-winning international ... will enable clients to focus on good customer experience, balancing ... regulation. ... In order to provide a one-stop fraud prevention suite, Arvato ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... LOS ANGELES , Jan. 23, 2017   ... named Bio-Techne ( Minneapolis, MN ) ... is the most authoritative newsletter tracking developments ... consumables market. "Bio-Techne consistently achieved outstanding ... said Tanya Samazan, Managing Editor of IBO. "In ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... Fl (PRWEB) , ... January 23, 2017 , ... ... venture-backed teleradiology and telemedicine company announces significant growth last year adding 65 new ... Veterans Authority and US Army medical centers as well as one of US ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... - Resverlogix Corp. ("Resverlogix" or the "Company") (TSX: RVX) ... Zealand based Phase 1 trial with severe ... in reducing inflamed protein biomarkers in patients with severe ... that this is the first time in medical history ... made between epigenetic regulation and its potential for positive ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... CARLOS, Calif. , Jan. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... developing innovative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and other ... has joined the company as Chief Medical Officer. ... translational and clinical development activities at Alkahest and ... Dr. Jackson most recently served as Executive Director ...
Breaking Biology Technology: