Friday, 21 August 2015

Scientists Finally Discover How the Obesity Gene Works

 


Scientists have finally figured out how the key gene tied to obesity makes people fat, a major discovery that could open the door to an entirely new approach to the problem beyond diet and exercise.

The work solves a big mystery: Since 2007, researchers have known that a gene called FTO was related to obesity, but they didn’t know how, and could not tie it to appetite or other known factors.

Now experiments reveal that a faulty version of the gene causes energy from food to be stored as fat rather than burned. Genetic tinkering in mice and on human cells in the lab suggests this can be reversed, giving hope that a drug or other treatment might be developed to do the same in people.

The work was led by scientists at MIT and Harvard University and published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The discovery challenges the notion that “when people get obese it was basically their own choice because they choose to eat too much or not exercise,” said study leader Melina Claussnitzer, a genetics specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “For the first time, genetics has revealed a mechanism in obesity that was not really suspected before” and gives a third explanation or factor that’s involved.

Independent experts praised the discovery.

“It’s a big deal,” said Dr. Clifford Rosen, a scientist at Maine Medical Center Research Institute and an associate editor at the medical journal.

“A lot of people think the obesity epidemic is all about eating too much,” but our fat cells play a role in how food gets used, he said. With this discovery, “you now have a pathway for drugs that can make those fat cells work differently.”

Several obesity drugs are already on the market, but they are generally used for short-term weight loss and are aimed at the brain and appetite; they don’t directly target metabolism.

Researchers can’t guess how long it might take before a drug based on the new findings becomes available. But it’s unlikely it would be a magic pill that would enable people to eat anything they want without packing on the pounds. And targeting this fat pathway could affect other things, so a treatment would need rigorous testing to prove safe and effective.

The gene glitch doesn’t explain all obesity. It was found in 44 percent of Europeans but only 5 percent of blacks, so other genes clearly are at work, and food and exercise still matter.

Having the glitch doesn’t destine you to become obese but may predispose you to it. People with two faulty copies of the gene (one from Mom and one from Dad) weighed an average of 7 pounds more than those without them. But some were obviously a lot heavier than that, and even 7 pounds can be the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy weight, said Manolis Kellis, a professor at MIT.

Related: More U.S. Adults Are Now Obese than Overweight

He and Claussnitzer are seeking a patent related to the work. It was done on people in Europe, Sweden and Norway, and funded by the German Research Center for Environmental Health and others, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Researchers can’t guess how long it might take before a drug based on the new findings becomes available. But it’s unlikely it would be a magic pill that would enable people to eat anything they want without packing on the pounds. And targeting this fat pathway could affect other things, so a treatment would need rigorous testing to prove safe and effective.

The gene glitch doesn’t explain all obesity. It was found in 44 percent of Europeans but only 5 percent of blacks, so other genes clearly are at work, and food and exercise still matter.

Having the glitch doesn’t destine you to become obese but may predispose you to it. People with two faulty copies of the gene (one from Mom and one from Dad) weighed an average of 7 pounds more than those without them. But some were obviously a lot heavier than that, and even 7 pounds can be the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy weight, said Manolis Kellis, a professor at MIT.

Related: ‘Healthy Obesity’ Turns Unhealthy Over Time

He and Claussnitzer are seeking a patent related to the work. It was done on people in Europe, Sweden and Norway, and funded by the German Research Center for Environmental Health and others, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

“It’s a potential target” for drug development, said Dr. Sam Klein, an obesity researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. He called the work “an amazing study” and “a scientific tour de force.”

Dr. Rudolph Leibel, an obesity expert at Columbia University in New York, used the same term — “tour de force.” Still, some earlier research suggests the FTO gene may influence other aspects of obesity such as behavior and appetite.

“It’s possible there are several mechanisms being affected,” and that fat-burning is not the whole story, he said.

Read This Next: There Are 6 Types Of Obesity — And Each Should Be Treated Differently

- Associated Press

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Malaysian property sector still attracting overseas investors


Canadian pension fund invests in JV with Pavilion Group

KUALA LUMPUR: The largest pension fund manager in Canada will invest RM485mil for a 49% interest in its joint venture (JV) with Pavilion Group to develop Pavilion Damansara Heights – a mixed-used property in Kuala Lumpur.

This is Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s (CPPIB) first direct real estate investment in the region.

“We are pleased to make our first direct real estate investment in South-East Asia through this JV with one of Malaysia’s most well-respected developers, the Pavilion Group.

“This JV fits well with our investment strategy, as it provides us with a great opportunity to work with a smart partner in a high-quality real estate asset that will provide attractive risk-adjusted returns over the long term,” said CPPIB managing director and head of real estate investments Asia Jimmy Phua in a statement.

The Malaysian property market is still attracting strong interest from overseas investors, despite reports suggesting a possible slowdown in demand.

Major property players from China, including Greenland Holdings Group Ltd and Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, are among big investors in Johor.

Pavilion Damansara Heights is a freehold development integrating corporate towers, luxury residences and a retail galleria.

The development is located in one of the prime and affluent locations in Kuala Lumpur, less than 10km from the Petronas Twin Towers. It is well-connected by a network of highways and strategically served by two upcoming Mass Rapid Transit stations within walking distance to the development.

Pavilion Group is an experienced local developer of commercial and residential projects and is one of the strongest and most well-established Malaysian retail developers. It has developed several prominent retail malls, and office and retail projects in Kuala Lumpur.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to partner with CPPIB in this exciting development in Kuala Lumpur.

“It is a highly anticipated landmark for Damansara Heights, set within Malaysia’s most affluent neighbourhood, offering a world-class integrated development that is synonymous with the Pavilion Brand,” said Pavillion Group project director Timothy Liew.

Pavilion Group was in the news recently as it had set a record of sorts for pricing its high-rise serviced residential units of its latest project – the Pavilion Suites – along Jalan Bukit Bintang starting from RM3,000 per sq ft.

The high-end property is being built on a half-acre parcel that had created a buzz in the property sector in 2010.

In the same year, Urusharta Cemerlang Sdn Bhd, a company controlled by property magnate Tan Sri Desmond Lim, had purchased the tiny strip of land from Singapore billionaire Kwek Leng Beng for a record price of RM7,209 per sq ft.

Source: Starbiz Asia News Network

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