In what is considered a major weight loss breakthrough, a pill which cures obesity without requiring a drastic diet change or exercise sounds like fantasy but Australian scientists believe they can make it a reality.
Researchers from Flinders University have identified a fat-storing gene known as ‘RCAN1’.
They fed mice a high-fat diet, letting them gorge on fatty foods for prolonged periods, but some had the gene removed.
Scientists from the international study found rodents without the gene did not put on any weight or fat mass.
In comparison, mice with the RCAN1 gene who were fed fatty foods gained a considerable amount of weight.
Mice which lack RCAN1 were thinner not because they ate less or were more active, but because they burnt more calories at rest.
The study concluded that RCAN1 causes fat cells to store more fat and burn less energy.
Flinders University researcher Damien Keating told Daily Mail Australia it could be a breakthrough for people struggling to control their weight.
‘This is all done with the ultimate intention of improving human health,’ he said.
Mr Keating said it was not possible to remove the gene from humans but was hoping to develop a safe drug which can inhibit RCAN1.
The scientists now have several drugs they are testing to target these pathways with the aim of developing new therapies to help people lose weight, however Mr Keating admitted this is ‘some way off’.
Mr Keating said while there are always more natural ways for obese people to shed the pounds, he believes the research is important.
‘Obesity is a leading cause of a multitude of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and high blood pressure,’ he pointed out.
And with a shocking two thirds of Australian adults and a quarter of children either overweight or obese, a new solution might be necessary.