Genetic Technology News presents the latest R&D developments and advances with an emphasis on opportunities to profit in the explosive field of genetic technology through technology transfer, joint ventures, and acquisitions. The complete gamut of genetic technology applications is covered including the latest developments in genomics; AIDS, cancer, and other genetic therapies; genetically altered animals and plants; viral insecticides, biopolymers and biomaterials; and vaccines.
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MAHOGANY GENE CONTROLS DIET-INDUCED OBESITY
The six obesity genes discovered so far are linked to genetically induced obesity. Now researchers at Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. have cloned the mahogany gene (mg) and its protein product (MG) and found that the gene can suppress diet-induced obesity in mice ("Nature" 398: 152-156). The MG protein may provide a target for a small-molecule obesity drug for obesity caused simply by overeating.
Mice with mutated mg genes maintain a healthy weight whether they eat a
high-fat (42% fat) or low-fat (9% fat) diet with the same amount of calories.
Mice with normal mg genes gain excess weight on the high-fat diet.
This type of obesity is different from genetically induced obesity in which mice gain weight even when fed a normal diet. Genes known to be associated with inherited obesity in mice are obese (ob), diabetes (db), tubby (tub), fat (fat), and agouti-yellow (Ay).
Independent of the Millennium researchers, a team headed by Gregory Barsh of Stanford University School of Medicine identified the mahogany gene and found that its protein product is a large (1428 amino acids) transmembrane protein. The extracellular portion of the protein is similar to human attractin. Only recently identified, this protein is a circulating molecule produced by activated T cells. It appears to be involved in immune-cell interactions.
Millennium's discovery came out of a program supported by Hoffmann-La Roche (Basel, Switzerland/Nutley, NJ) to find genes associated with obesity and type II diabetes.
GTN recently estimated that the potential annual US market for all types of antiobesity therapeutics is nearly $5 billion (GTN, 2/12/99). Therapeutics based on the six previously discovered obesity genes have promise only for treating inherited obesity. However, this type of obesity only affects about 10% of the 50 million or so overweight people in the United States. While it seems unlikely that a safe medication will ever be available to allow people to overeat continually and not gain weight, the mahogany gene discovery does open up the possibility of a drug that might help the 90% of the people who are obese only because they overeat.
Sample Weekly Table of Contents
* MAHOGANY GENE CONTROLS DIET-INDUCED OBESITY
* REPLIGEN WILL DEVELOP SECRETIN FOR AUTISM
* IBIS SEEKS BIOLOGICAL WARFARE DEFENSE DRUGS
* VERTEX'S MAP KINASE DRUG STARTS CLINICALS
* GENENTECH UPGRADES ITS HEART ATTACK PROTEIN
* GENZYME MELANOMA VACCINE BEGINS PHASE I/II TRIALS
* GENE THERAPY CONTROLS PAIN IN ANIMAL TESTS
* STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
* SOME IMPORTANT PATENTS FOR YOU TO CHECK