It sounds like a dream for many - the ability to stuff your face with whatever gluttonous treats you desire without gaining a pound. Well according to findings published in EMBO Reports science journal, this dream is now a reality.
The key to this discovery? A gene known as RCAN1, “which, when disabled in mice, allowed them to gorge on high fat foods for prolonged periods of time without gaining calories,” Vice reported. Researchers hope the same results will be true for humans, allowing them to create a pill to combat obesity.
“We know a lot of people struggle to lose weight or even control their weight for a number of different reasons,” lead researcher Professor Damien Keating said, according to Science Daily. “The findings in this study could mean developing a pill which would target the function of RCAN1 and may result in weight loss.”
RCAN1 inhibits certain metabolic processes, including something called “non-shivering themogenesis” (NST). NST helps convert white fat, which stores energy and leads to obesity, into brown fat, which produces heat and burns calories.
“Removing RCAN1 had two major effects,” Damien explained. “It reduced the storage of fat in dangerous areas around the bell, for example. And then in muscle it actually muscles to burn more calories at rest.”
At the time of reporting, the National Health and Medical Research Council had provided funding to conduct additional research Damien hopes will ultimately help tackle the growing obesity epidemic.