Scientists in Australia have created a mouse that carries half the normal amount of body fat despite eating as much as it likes

They believe it could lead to an effective cure for obesity within about five years, reports the Herald Sun newspaper.

The so-called ‘hot mouse’ was engineered to burn energy at a much higher rate than normal, the Garvan Institute’s Professor David James said.

“They’re missing one gene and the absence of that one gene allows these mice to eat essentially the equivalent of an extra meal every day of their lives but despite that, they only have half the amount of body fat a normal mouse does,” Prof James told AAP.

The missing gene contained the blueprint for a protein that slowed down the conversion of fat to energy, Prof James explained.

“Normally it slows the process down so when the gene is missing it speeds that process up,” he said. “Humans have the same gene as this and the gene we believe may work the same way.”

Mice missing the c-Cbl gene appeared to enjoy the same life-span as normal mice, Prof James said, and were able to reproduce normally.

Apart from the ability to eat more without gaining weight, the only noticeable physical changes wrought by removing the gene were an increase in body temperature and energy levels.

More here.