Nav: Home

Study offers new hope for the fight against genetically determined obesity

June 01, 2018

Around two to six per cent of all people with obesity develop obesity already in early childhood; it's in their genetic cards. Obesity-causal mutations in one of their 'appetite genes' gives them a strong genetic predisposition for developing obesity, also called monogenic obesity. Their experience of hunger is overruling and their feeling of satiety limited.

In addition, this group of people with obesity respond less well to existing treatments than others. Diets and surgery can help them lose weight, but the long-term effect is poor, as they are unable to maintain the weight loss.

Now there is hope for this group of people. In a new study published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that this group of people with obesity can lose weight with the help of the medicine liraglutide, which is a modified form of the appetite-inhibiting hormone GLP-1 naturally secreted from the intestine when we eat.

'These people develop obesity because they are genetically programmed to do so. That is, they are struggling with what is probably the strongest human drive: the desire to eat and thus to survive. However, the appetite-inhibiting drug liraglutide has a positive effect on them. They feel less hungry and lose six per cent of their body weight within four months', says the the lead of the study, Associate Professor Signe Sørensen Torekov from the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.

Receptor Confusion

In this study the researchers have examined 14 persons with obesity caused by pathogenic mutations in the so-called MC4R gene and 28 persons with obesity without the mutations. Both groups were treated with the medicine for four months; no changes were made to their diet and level of exercise in this period.

The individuals with this most common form of monogenic obesity lost 7 kg of their body weight compared to 6 kg for the people with common obesity.

'We are positively surprised to see that the treatment has a good effect on this group of people. Many researchers have believed that the function of the medicine was mainly to inhibit the appetite by stimulating this specific appetite receptor in the brain which does not work in this particular group of people with obesity. However, our study shows that the medicine still has an appetite-inhibiting effect and thus must affect the appetite in a different way', says Signe Sørensen Torekov.

Already Available

Medicine acting as an analogue to our natural GLP-1 hormone is already available, as it has been FDA and EMA licensed for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The new study thus makes it possible to treat the most common form of genetically caused obesity, where patients respond poorly to existing treatments.

'People who have suffered from obesity all their lives probably are not aware that it is caused by this mutation. It can therefore be a huge relief for many to learn why they have developed obesity and that there is actually a treatment that works', says first-author of the study, PhD Student Eva Winning Iepsen at the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.

She also points out that the medicine makes it easier for people with this monogenic form of obesity to control their blood sugar. The medicine can thus also have an effect on diabetes and pre-diabetes often seen in this particular group of individuals with genetically determined obesity.

As MC4R mutations cause obesity already in early childhood, the researchers hope the results can pave the way for new studies on young people in the future. If they are able to prevent this condition before the young people reach adulthood, it will have a great positive effect on their health and perhaps also social stigmatization, the researchers believe.
-end-


University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Related Obesity Articles:

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.
Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?
Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.
Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.
Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.
Systematic review shows risk of a child developing overweight or obesity is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to pregnancy
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, Scotland (April 28- May 1) reveals that the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to getting pregnant.
Eating later in the day may be associated with obesity
Eating later in the day may contribute to weight gain, according to a new study to be presented Saturday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, La.
How obesity affects vitamin D metabolism
A new Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study confirms that vitamin D supplementation is less effective in the presence of obesity, and it uncovers a biological mechanism to explain this observation.
Wired for obesity
In a multi-center collaboration, scientists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and University of Cambridge discover a set of genes that help to establish brain connections governing body weight.
Sarcopenic obesity: The ignored phenotype
A new condition, that occurs in the presence of both sarcopenia and obesity and termed as ''sarcopenic obesity'', and that describes under the same phenotype the increase in body fat mass deposition, and the reduction in lean mass and muscle strength.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.