Gene Mutation Causes Obesity

Staff Writer
Research finds defect that explains uncontrollable eating

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

New research may explain why you can't put down that bag of chips or candy — it could be a gene mutation that causes uncontrollable eating. 

The study, from Georgetown University Medical Center, identifies a mutation in a single gene in the part of the brain that's responsible for suppressing appetite. The defect in the neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene makes it impossible for brain neurons to trasmit leptin and insulin signals through the brain, which then tell the body when to stop eating. These hormones are usually released after a person eats, but if the insulin and leptin signals fail to reach the brain, you'll just keep eating and eating. As a result, you'll never feel full.

The new research is notable because no one has figured out how the BDNF has been able to control body weight. The big question to be determined, however, is whether the mutation can be fixed.

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