Gene Discovery Lets Mice Gorge on Carbs, Stay Thin

Tweaked mice can munch carbs without getting fat
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2009 8:33 AM CDT
Lab mice with the DNA-PK gene switched off had 40% less body fat than mice in a control group.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Yet another breakthrough for mice: Genetic researchers have found a way to allow them to eat all the carbs they want and not get fat, reports the Los Angeles Times. The scientists turned off a gene in the liver that plays a role in turning excess glucose into fatty acids. When two groups of mice were fed an all-carb, low-fat diet, the ones without the gene were 40% leaner and less prone to heart disease.

Scientists were surprised to discover that the gene involved, already known to repair breaks in DNA, performed this extra trick. Gene therapy isn't being considered as an anti-obesity treatment, but scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the carb-to-fat conversion and someday find a way to disrupt the process.