The gene encodes a protein known as 14-3-3zeta. This gene is found in every cell of the body. When the scientists silenced the gene in laboratory mice, they observed a 50 per cent reduction in white fat, which is the unhealthy kind associated with obesity and its related health concerns.
This extreme reduction in fat was observed whilst the mice were consuming the same amount of food. Mice that were purposefully bred to have higher levels of the 14-3-3zeta protein were obviously larger than their peers and had an average of 22 per cent more white fat when consuming a high calorie diet.
Scientists believe that the discovery of this link between protein and fat production is critical to developing drug therapy to eventually treat obesity. The working hypothesis is that by suppressing or halting the protein, those who are overweight could have fat accumulation prevented.
More than one in four Canadians are obese, a condition which costs the Canadian health care system approximately $2 trillion each year.