Drug switches on fat-burning gene in mice

Ronald M. Evans, an investigator at The Salk Institute in San Diego, has developed a drug that switches on the PPAR-d gene in mice, protecting them against weight gain from high-calorie and high-fat diets. The drug--which mimics fat--triggers their metabolisms and generates a physical response similar to exercising. After treatment, the mice had lower levels of fatty acids, triglyceride and sugar levels. These mice also exhibited much greater stamina, allowing them to exercise twice as long as normal. The response earned the rodents in the study the name of "marathon mice." The PPAR-d target is already the focus of several research programs by pharmaceutical companies. While the research obviously has far to go, Evans is quick to point out that a successful therapy would still work best in combination with diet and exercise. It would also have a dramatic impact on epidemic rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

- read the HealthDay News report on the research work