A complex story behind genes, environment, diabetes and obesity
A complex story behind genes, environment, diabetes and obesity — Garvan Institute
While it is well known that there is a strong genetic basis to both diabetes and obesity, and that they are linked, Australian researchers say that there are many rare genetic variants involved, which will pose a significant challenge in the quest to develop effective therapies.
The information gathered by Professor Campbell was analysed by Dr Jenkins using a specially constructed mathematical model. He concluded that many genes are responsible for obesity, with each affected family likely to tell a slightly different genetic story.
“We can see that there are many, many different ways in which the system can go wrong, with more variety than commonality,” said Dr Jenkins.
“In my opinion, the current quest to develop a single anti-obesity drug is misguided – because there are too many potential problems to be targeted by a single drug, or indeed any small number of drugs.”
“It’s likely that the same is true of type 2 diabetes. The underlying cause is genetic and the genetic causes are very rare, but there are many differences between people.”
“Rare genetic defects account for something like 95% of the total problem. That is a very unwelcome fact for most people, who would like to think an easy solution is close at hand.”
Professor Campbell stresses that genes bring out underlying predispositions, and there are fairly predictable interactions between genes and environment. So if people are predisposed to a strong appetite, large amounts of easily available, highly palatable, food are likely to make them fat.
“The reason we see so many people getting fat is that they carry strong hunger genes while the environment is maxed; it’s an obesogenic environment that rewards eating,” said Professor Campbell.
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