Navigation Links
Genetic Tweak Helps Mice Avoid Cancer, Obesity: Study

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- New research offers potential insight into the connection between cancer, obesity and longevity in humans by showing that genetically modified mice live longer, skinnier and almost cancer-free lives.

There are quite a few differences between mice and humans, especially in regard to the type of fat that's apparently affected by the genetic tweak, so there's no way to know if the research could lead to benefits in humans. Even if medications based on the research are developed, no one knows what the side effects in people might be or their eventual cost.

Still, a potential drug "could have two benefits: adding some extra protection against cancer and protecting us from overeating," said Manuel Serrano, senior group leader at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid and co-author of a study appearing in the March issue of Cell Metabolism.

At issue is a gene called Pten that boosts the body's cancer-fighting powers. Mutations in the gene can contribute to the development of cancer.

The researchers genetically engineered mice to have extra copies of the gene. The mice didn't suffer from side effects, Serrano said, and they managed to live 15 percent longer than other mice and suffer from less cancer.

He acknowledged, however, that figuring out a mouse's cause of death can be a challenge.

Mice that ate a high-fat diet also managed to be leaner, suggesting that the genetic tweak affected their ability to gain weight even when they would normally be packing on the extra ounces.

Serrano said the key seems to be the tweak's effect on something known as brown fat.

Both mice and humans have brown fat, but it's better understood in mice, he noted. In mice, it appears to burn regular "white fat" and be activated when it's cold or when the mice eat too much, Serrano said.

"Brown fat is very abundant and active in mice, but in humans it is scarce," Serrano explained. "At present, it is not known whether pushing the brown fat in humans will have a significant effect in fat burning."

Serrano said drugs are now in development that tinker with the gene in an effort to fight cancer.

Dr. Aaron Cypess, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who studies obesity, said the research appears to be valid and useful.

"There's a connection being made between tumor-suppressing genes, which prevent cancers from growing, and energy expenditure -- consuming calories," he said. "We know that obesity can lead to cancer in humans. This makes the arrow go the other direction. What it's saying is that no cancer leads to no obesity."

There's a big caveat, however. "While the mouse is a very useful model to understand humans, there are a lot of differences between mice and men," Cypess said. "Practically speaking, just because something happens in a mouse model doesn't mean it's going to happen in a human. We are very different."

In a related study in the journal, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that blocking production of a marijuana-like compound in the brain boosted mice's metabolism of brown fat. These mice were able to eat more and move less than typical mice, without gaining weight or developing symptoms that can raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

More information

For more about obesity, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Manuel Serrano, Ph.D., senior group leader, Spanish National Cancer Research Center, Madrid, Spain; Aaron M. Cypess, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston; March 2012, Cell Metabolism

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers find possible genetic keys to surviving epithelial ovarian cancer
2. Genetic variants affect arsenic metabolism and toxicity in Bangladesh
3. Stealth properties of cancer-causing genetic mutations identified
4. ROCK off: Study establishes molecular link between genetic defect and heart malformation
5. Massachusetts General study defines a new genetic subtype of lung cancer
6. Researchers discover method to unravel malarias genetic secrets
7. Genetic variation increases risk of metabolic side effects in children on some antipsychotics
8. New Genetic Clues to Breast Cancer?
9. Gladstone scientists identify genetic mechanism linked to congenital heart disease
10. Newborn screening program aims to help transform treatments for genetic diseases detected at birth
11. A genetic accelerator hits the gas on autoimmune diseases
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Genetic Tweak Helps Mice Avoid Cancer, Obesity: Study
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... For the first time, Vitalalert is donating half of its earnings to ... between the two groups began in 2014 with Vitalalert pledging a portion of every ... founded in 1954 and is an international Christian-based health organization whose mission is to ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... encouraging people across the country to celebrate their sobriety and show through pictures ... post “before and after” photos this Thanksgiving with the hashtag #FacesOfGratitude on their ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... On November 25, 2015, ... for the Narconon network, announced the release of a new cutting edge recovery program ... organization has been working with drug- and alcohol-addicted individuals with the purpose to free ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... The McHenry County law firm of Botto Gilbert ... Attorneys Francisco J. Botto and Alex C. Wimmer. Attorneys Botto and Wimmer represented the ... App (2d) 130884WC. , According to court documents, Adcock testified that on May 10, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... Smiles by Stevens is pleased to announce the addition of Botox® for ... aware of the benefits of Botox® in the treatment of moderate facial wrinkling, few ... and pain as a result of Jaw Tension, TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorder, and Bruxism ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Trovagene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV ), ... Chief Executive Officer Antonius Schuh, Ph.D., is scheduled to ... Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference. th ... Palace Hotel in New York ... Mr. Schuh will be available for one-on-one meetings during ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN ... Therapeutics, a start-up  biotechnology company focused on the ... and funded by the F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative ... an exclusive collaboration to support the discovery and ... (ASD) and Obsessive Compulsive disorders (OCD). ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Ohio , Nov. 25, 2015 ... handle hazardous drug preparations (e.g. pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, ... and veterinary technicians). The chapter also covers all ... drugs (e.g., pharmacies, hospitals, other healthcare institutions, patient ... --> --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: