Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

'Gene overdose' Causes Extreme Thinness

Published: Thursday, September 01, 2011
Last Updated: Thursday, September 01, 2011
Bookmark and Share
People with extra copies of certain genes are much more likely to be very skinny.

Scientists have discovered a genetic cause of extreme thinness for the first time, in a study published in the journal Nature.

The research shows that people with extra copies of certain genes are much more likely to be very skinny. In one in 2000 people, part of chromosome 16 is duplicated, making men 23 times and women five times more likely to be underweight.

Each person normally has a copy of each chromosome from each parent, so we have two copies of each gene. But sometimes sections of a chromosome can be duplicated or deleted, resulting in an abnormal 'dosage' of genes.

In a study examining the DNA of over 95,000 people, researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Lausanne have identified that duplication of a part of chromosome 16 is associated with being underweight, defined as a body mass index below 18.5.

Half of all children with the duplication in the study have been diagnosed with a 'failure to thrive', meaning that their rate of weight gain is significantly lower than normal.

A quarter of people with the duplication have microcephaly, a condition in which the head and brain are abnormally small, which is associated with neurological defects and shorter life expectancy.

Last year, the same researchers discovered that people with a missing copy of these genes are 43 times more likely to be morbidly obese.

Professor Philippe Froguel, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: "The dogma is that we have two copies of each gene, but this isn't really true. The genome is full of holes where genes are lost, and in other places we have extra copies of genes. In many cases, duplications and deletions have no effect, but occasionally they can lead to disease.

"So far, we have discovered a large number of genetic changes that lead to obesity. It seems that we have plenty of systems that increase appetite since eating is so important - users can suppress one and nothing happens. This is the first genetic cause of extreme thinness that has been identified.

"One reason this is important is that it shows that failure to thrive in childhood can be genetically driven. If a child is not eating, it's not necessarily the parents' fault.

"It's also the first example of a deletion and a duplication of one part of the genome having opposite effects. At the moment we don't know anything about the genes in this region. If we can work out why gene duplication in this region causes thinness, it might throw up new potential treatments for obesity and appetite disorders. We now plan to sequence these genes and find out what they do, so we can get an idea of which ones are involved in regulating appetite."

The part of chromosome 16 identified in the study contains 28 genes. Duplications in this region have previously been linked with schizophrenia, and deletions with autism.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Gene Expression Controls Revealed
Researchers have modelled every atom in a key part of the process for switching on genes, revealing a whole new area for potential drug targets.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Switching Off Cancers' Ability to Spread
A key molecule in breast and lung cancer cells can help switch off the cancers' ability to spread around the body.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Fossil Find Reveals Just How Big Carnivorous Dinosaur May Have Grown
Researchers at imperial college London have said that an unidentified fossilised bone in a museum has revealed the size of a fearsome Abelisaur and may solve a hundred-year-old puzzle.
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
‘Simple Rules’ Calculate Ovarian Cancer Risk
Scientists have formulated a system that uses ultrasound images to accurately work out the likelihood of an ovarian growth being cancerous.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Intelligence ‘Networks’ Discovered in Brain for the First Time
Scientists from Imperial College London have identified for the first time two clusters of genes linked to human intelligence.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Modified Mosquitoes Could Help Fight Against Malaria
The results are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
New Technique Negotiates Neuron Jungle To Target Source Of Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers from Imperial College London and Newcastle University believe they have found a potential new way to target cells of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Designer Molecule Shines a Spotlight on Mysterious Four-Stranded DNA
A small fluorescent molecule has shed new light on knots of DNA thought to play a role in regulating how genes are switched on and off.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
New Drug Target Identified for Serious Heart and Lung Condition
A gene has been identified that sheds new light on a potentially fatal heart and lung condition and could lead to a new treatment.
Friday, August 14, 2015
Scientists Find New Variant of Streptococcal Bacteria Causing Severe Infections
Researchers noticed a sharp rise in infections caused by emm89.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Shows Encouraging Trial Results
A therapy that replaces the faulty gene responsible for cystic fibrosis in patients' lungs has produced encouraging results in a major UK trial.
Friday, July 03, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Researchers Develop New Breath Test to Diagnose Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer
Test will now be tested in a larger trial involving three hospitals in London.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Imperial Researchers Win Health Foundation Grant for Cancer Innovation Study
Each project will receive over £450,000 of funding to support the research.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Scientific News
Poverty Marks a Gene, Predicting Depression
New study of high-risk teens reveals a biological pathway for depression.
World’s Largest Coral Gene Database
‘Genetic toolkit’ will help shed light on which species survive climate change.
Early Genetic Changes in Premalignant Colorectal Tissue Identified
Findings point to drivers of early cancer development, targets for cancer prevention therapies.
Scientists Find Evidence That Cancer Can Arise Changes
Researchers at Rockefeller University have found a mutation that affects the proteins that package DNA without changing the DNA itself can cause a rare form of cancer.
Modified Microalgae Converts Sunlight into Valuable Medicine
A special type of microalgae can soon produce valuable chemicals such as cancer treatment drugs and much more just by harnessing energy from the sun.
Breakthrough Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment
Scripps scientists have designed a drug candidate that decreases growth of breast cancer cells.
Loss Of Y Chromosome Increases Risk Of Alzheimer’s
Men with blood cells that do not carry the Y chromosome are at greater risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is in addition to an increased risk of death from other causes, including many cancers. These new findings by researchers at Uppsala University could lead to a simple test to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A Guide to CRISPR Gene Activation
A comparison of synthetic gene-activating Cas9 proteins can help guide research and development of therapeutic approaches.
Gene That Lowers Heart Attack Risk Identified
Individuals with a rare twelve-letter deletion from a gene on chromosome 17 have significantly reduced non-HDL cholesterol levels and a 35% lower than average risk of heart disease.
Testing Non-Breast/Ovarian Cancer Genes
Researchers have found that expanding gene panel beyond breast/ovarian cancer genes in these patients does not add any clinical benefit. Instead, testing has produced more questions than answers.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!