Obesity Control: Synthetic biology in the fight against obesity

Obesity is the condition of a person suffering from an enlarged body fat, resulting in excess weight, are widely distributed in various areas of the body fat. It has been recognized as a disease in 1997 by the World Health Organization. Multifactorial disease that is considered today as a pandemic, although it is not an infectious disease. According to the CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), at least a quarter of American adults and more than 15% of children and adolescents suffering from obesity. The prevention of this disease represents a major public health problem in developed countries because of the serious consequences it can have on health.

While the most advanced research and current treatments are ineffective against this disease, a team of scientists from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), led by Professors Liao and Dipple, just discovered, thanks to the synthetic biology, a new approach to fight obesity against food-borne.

Synthetic biology is a new emerging discipline which consists in creating artificial microbes and use them as a platform to produce useful molecules. It provides a synthesis and engineering of components and new artificial biological systems or reengineer existing biological systems. The team of scientists, through this approach, has been able to find a new metabolic pathway in the mouse which increases the metabolism of fatty acids and helps to fight against obesity.

The unconventional idea behind this study was taken from plants and bacteria. Indeed, these organisms digest the fat in a manner different from humans and mammals. The seeds of many plants naturally store fat and during germination, they transform lipids carbohydrates necessary for growth, with specific enzymes. These enzymes form the "glyoxylate cycle" derived "Krebs Cycle" and that does not exist in mammals.

To study the effects of these enzymes on the metabolism of fatty acids in mice, scientists have cloned the genes in E. coli and the bacteria were introduced into the mitochondria of liver cells of mice, instead of oxidizing acids bold. The expression of these enzymes in cells has resulted in digestion of fatty acids much faster. In deriving an additional lane involved in the conversion of fatty acids into carbon dioxide, scientists were able to increase the effectiveness of the process. Finally, it has also been shown that this new way of reducing the rate Melonyl-CoA, an inhibitor of the association of fatty acids to carnitine, allowing the association of fatty acids into mitochondria for degradation.

Thus, mice genetically engineered to synthesize specific enzymes and subjected to a bold plan for 6 months, do not develop fat contrairelent in normal mice following the same diet.

This study provides proof of concept that a metabolic pathway can be modified in the liver by affecting the level of adiposity in the body. This new approach could lead, ultimately, to better understand and potentially treat obesity and related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, it also shows the impact in future therapeutic approaches using synthetic biology new discipline with multiple application.

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