Gene tweak shows promise to keep you cancer free and slim

Posted: March 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

Washington, Mar 7 (ANI): Researchers have offered a potential insight into a known anti-cancer gene, which may also open the door to new therapeutic options that may aid weight loss and longevity in humans.

Mice with an extra dose of a known anti-cancer gene lose weight even as their appetites grow. Not only that, but according to the report, the animals also live longer, and that isn't just because they aren't getting cancer, either.

One of the animals' youthful secrets is hyperactive brown fat, which burns energy instead of storing it.

The findings add to evidence that tumour suppressors aren't designed only to protect us against cancer, the researchers say. They also point to new treatment strategies aimed to boost brown fat and fight aging.

"Tumor suppressors are actually genes that have been used by evolution to protect us from all kinds of abnormalities," said Manuel Serrano of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center.

In this case, the researchers studied a tumour suppressor commonly lost in human cancers. Mice with an extra copy of the gene known as Pten didn't get cancer, but that's not the half of it.

Those mice were also leaner, even as they ate more than controls, Serrano said. That suggested that the animals were experiencing some sort of metabolic imbalance-and a beneficial one at that.

Cancer protection aside, the animals lived longer than usual. They were also less prone to insulin resistance and had less fat in their livers.

Those benefits seem to trace back to the fact that those Pten mice were burning more calories thanks to overactive brown fat.

Studies in isolated brown fat cells confirmed that a boost in Pten increases the activity of those cells. Pten also made it easier for brown fat to form.

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Gene tweak shows promise to keep you cancer free and slim

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