Deciphering an Obesity Gene By Jennifer Couzin Science NOW Daily News 8 November 2007 When the first powerful, common gene behind obesity was reported this spring, scientists were excited but also left scratching their heads. No one, including the diabetes researchers who uncovered it, had any idea how the gene--FTO--worked. Now, a group has taken the first steps toward deciphering why the FTO protein weighs down the scales. FTO surfaced during a hunt for genes behind type 2 diabetes, but researchers soon recognized that its real role was in obesity ( Science , 13 April, p. 185). Although obesity has long been considered partly genetic, genes have been tough to come by. The Science study, which included almost 39,000 people, concluded that having two copies of a certain FTO variant increased weight by about 3 kg--the first clear example of a common obesity gene. Then came the hard part: What does FTO do and how does it do it? To begin answering that, a team from several British institutions considered
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