Mutations in specific genes fully explain a small but significant subset of patients with obesity and/or type 2 diabetes while genetic factors play a key role in determining susceptibility to both disorders in the broader population, a Review in Nature concludes. Teasing apart the genetics of people with these conditions is helping researchers identify new therapeutic targets, design new drugs and understand the pathophysiology of these complex disorders.
Metabolic diseases, generally thought to be caused by an interaction between heritable factors and environmental influences, pose a growing threat to world-wide public health. Focussing on obesity and type 2 diabetes, Stephen O'Rahilly explores the extent to which human molecular genetics has illuminated our understanding of their underlying mechanisms.
Gone are the days, he argues, when these disorders were viewed solely as a product of our 'food-on-tap' environment. The time may be coming when obesity is viewed not so much as a metabolic disease, but as a heritable neurobehavioural disorder, albeit one highly susceptible to the environment.
Stephen O'Rahilly (University of Cambridge, UK)
(C) Nature press release.
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