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Jumbo rats studied for obesity cure

obese rat July 1, 1997
Web posted at: 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT)

HYDERABAD, India (CNN) -- Rats more than four times their standard weight could prove key in developing cures for obesity and diabetes, according to Indian scientists who helped develop the oversized animals.

Scientists at the National Institute of Nutrition in India told reporters Sunday they had developed an indigenous breed of rats believed to be the biggest in the world.

The animals weigh up to 3 pounds; a typical rat weighs just over half a pound.

The Largest Rats in the World!
video icon 831 K / 22 sec. QuickTime movie

The specially bred animals gain 5 grams, or .17 ounces, of body weight per day from birth, eventually becoming too fat to even stand up. They spend most of their time lying on their backs.


Nappan Veettil Giridharan of the institute's laboratory said the overweight rats are being sought by bio-medical researchers for use as models to develop cures for obesity and diabetes, conditions that afflict millions worldwide.

"It would help understand what causes obesity in mammal life forms," Giridharan said.

The obese rats were developed from mutants created from the in-breeding of rats raised by the institute for the last 75 years.

The institute maintains some 400 of the fat rats, but further breeding has been stopped because the laboratory has run out of space.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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