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Scientists identify gene linked with obesity and diabetes


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-Nature Genetics
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Under embargo for
18.00 BST/13.00 EST
Sunday 17 July 2005

Scientists have identified a gene associated with both childhood and adult obesity, and type 2 diabetes, in European populations.

According to research published today in Nature Genetics, the team from Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, and the CNRS Lille, France, have identified a gene (ENPP1), with strong links to childhood obesity in 3,147 in a sample of 4,886 French Caucasian individuals. They also found a genetic link between variants of the gene and severe, morbid and moderate obesity in adults.

Professor Philippe Froguel, from Imperial College London and Hammersmith Hospital, and senior author of the research says: "Although this discovery is not going to lead to a 'magic pill' for curing obesity and type 2 diabetes, it could help in identifying groups and individuals at increased risk. If we can identify those at risk at an earlier age, it may be possible to take preventative measures earlier on, and reduce the burden of ill health caused by obesity in later life."

The study also found a link between ENPP1 and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes when looking at a group of 2,569 North European diabetics and non-diabetics.

The team also believe that ENPP1 could be a factor in controlling insulin resistance -- where the body does not respond to its own insulin, allowing blood sugar levels to rise to dangerous levels in the bloodstream. They believe the gene is responsible for a molecular mechanism behind both obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Professor Froguel adds: "The identification of ENPP1 as a molecular mechanism for obesity and diabetes means we may be able to use it as a target to develop new therapies and treatments, ultimately leading to more effective ways of treating diabetes."

-ends-

For further information please contact:

Abigail Smith
Press Officer
Communications Department
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6701
E-mail: abigail.smith@imperial.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

1. To arrange an interview with Professor Froguel, please contact the Imperial College London press office.

2. Variants of the chromosome 6q23.2 ENPP1 (PC-1) gene are associated with both childhood and adult obesity and also increase the risk of glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes in European populations, Nature Genetics, 17 July 2005.

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