The mice that gorged -- and didn't gain weight
August 15, 1996
Web poste at: 11:45 p.m. EDT
From Reporter Liz Weiss
BOSTON (CNN) -- Some genetically altered mice are eating all
the food they want and aren't gaining weight, in a study
researchers say may have applications for people.
Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle altered
the gene for an enzyme called Protein Kinase A, or PKA, and
bred mice with the gene. Their results are published in the
"This gene is an intracellular regulator that governs the
signals that tell fat cells what to do," said Dr. Stanley
McNight, who worked on the project.
"It tells them whether to burn fat. It tells them whether to
By changing the PKA gene, scientists sent the enzyme into
overdrive. The mice could eat a high-fat diet, similar to a
typical fast-food diet, and never gain an ounce.
"What we've really done is just to increase their metabolic
rate," McNight said. "They're burning up more energy so
they're not storing that energy in the form of fat."
Based on such findings, drugs could possibly be developed
that would somehow target these enzyme systems, and speed up
a person's metabolic rate.
But even if new drugs do become available, weight loss
experts say they will not work for everyone.
"These drugs may help them, but won't cure them," Dr.
Jeffrey Silver of Beth Israel Hospital said.
"We still need to earn it. We have to eat right, eat the
right amounts, exercise and do it the old-fashioned way, one
pound at a time."
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