Gene therapy triggers rapid weight loss

Professor Matthew During, who teaches in Australia and Ohio State, says he's had significant success with a new gene therapy for obesity and plans to be in the clinic within a year.

Reporting in Nature Medicine, During created a gene therapy that combines brain-derived neurotrophic factor--a protein that regulates weight--with material that spurs autoregulation of the protein. Researchers have also prepared a third ingredient that could knock out the BDNF that could quickly halt its activity if the experiment goes awry. The therapy is injected into the hypothalamus region of the brain.

Researchers found that specially engineered mice suffering from morbid obesity lost 20 percent of their body weight in a matter of weeks. After that initial weight loss, their weights stabilized.

"The efficacy and the degree of weight loss is very dramatic," says During. "We haven't seen that in any study previously... We have very high expectations that this would also work in humans."

- read the story in the New Zealand Herald