Scientists find 4 genes that drive metabolism

Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:07pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Four genetic variations appear to determine the speed at which people burn up food, researchers said on Thursday, a finding that could one day see doctors offer their patients more individual care.

Differences in metabolism can make some people more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and explain why response to diet, exercise and drugs to treat certain conditions varies from person to person.

Knowing right away how a person's body will break down molecules in the blood that build up muscle and cells and provide energy could lead to better care, said Karsten Suhre, a researcher at the Helmholtz Center in Munich.

The researchers scanned the genes of 284 people and found four -- FADS1, LIPC, SCAD and MCAD -- linked to determining metabolic rates.

"These genes appear to be involved or play a key role in metabolism," Suhre said in a telephone interview.

This potentially paves the way for more personalized health care in which doctors could use knowledge of a patient's metabolism gleaned from their genetic make-up to determine treatment, he said.

This could prove particularly useful for treating conditions strongly linked to metabolism such as coronary artery disease and obesity, he added.

"These findings could result in a step toward personalized healthcare and nutrition based on a combination of genoytyping and metabolic characterization," Suhre and colleagues wrote in the Public Library of Science Journal PLoS Genetics.

The study is available at: here

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Sophie Hares)