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Discovery of genetic variants that protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes could lead to new weight loss medicines
In this genetic study published in the journal Cell, a research team led by Professor Nick Wareham and Dr Claudia Langenberg at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, and Professor Sadaf Farooqi at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, has shown that genetic variants in the MC4R gene that increase the activity of this brain receptor can protect people from becoming overweight.
The team looked at the MC4R gene in half a million volunteers from the UK population who have taken part in the UK Biobank, finding 61 distinct naturally-occurring genetic variants. While some of these genetic variants predisposed people to become obese, other variants provided protection against obesity and some of its major complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.