A study examining genetic differences between Utah families has uncovered a target for drugs to combat obesity.

Myriad Genetics Inc., which used a similar population study to uncover the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes associated with breast cancer, says its new study indicates that the gene HOB1 is linked to human obesity and is an important link between obesity and diabetes.

While there have been other obesity gene findings, this one could prove more valuable because it used human population studies rather than clinical animal studies. In addition, the population studied comprised a homogeneous group that had lived in the same area for generations, making it easier for researchers to find genetic commonalities.

Myriad has established that a mutated form of HOB1 causes excess production of a protein associated with obesity. While researchers don’t yet know what the protein does, they do believe it will be easy to target the gene with a small molecular drug delivered via a pill.


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