In this week's Nature (Vol. 406, Issue 6794), John Clapham and colleagues, from SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals and the University of Cambridge, UK, report that they have used genetic engineering to produce mice that eat far more than normal mice and yet remain leaner and lighter.
The mice over-produce the human version of 'Uncoupling protein 3' (UCP-3) in the mitochondria of their muscle. Mitochondria, the internal combustion engines of cells, release the energy locked in food to make the 'chemical fuel' ATP. Extra UCP-3 causes the body to burn off energy without making ATP, producing heat instead.
This research could lead to new treatments for human obesity, which is a major public health problem in the developed world. For example, an estimated one-third of all adult Americans are overweight. The researchers hope that it may be possible to combat obesity by finding ways to raise the amount or activity of UCP-3 produced in the human body.
John Clapham (available from 24 July) tel +44 1279 627 045, fax
+44 1279 627 049, e-mail John_Claphamfirstname.lastname@example.org
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza