"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Getting Fat, Or Not. 

Much of today's science news revolves around various ways that you may or may not gain weight.

Florida researchers have found a genetic variation in the gene for a 'molecular switch' that tells people when they have eaten enough, the mutant form of which could lead to overeating and obesity. Appetite regulation is a complex system, but if melanocortin-4 is really a major player, that could lead to all sorts of important things.

Other researchers have found that immunizing rats against ghrelin seems to increase their metabolic rates and reduce weight gain, generating much media hype about an 'obesity vaccine.' The thing is, ghrelin seems to have plenty of other roles, and I find it implausible that such vaccinations would go without (major) side-effects.

Harvard researchers have found another molecular switch pathway - one that regulates fat and cholesterol production in the body. Understanding how and why the body decides to (over)produce cholesterol and fats would be a fantastic step in treating not only metabolic syndrome but plenty more as well.

And, of course, the most dramatic way to gain weight is to get pregnant. If you're trying to go this route, you should probably lay off the reefer. It seems that pot interferes with embryo implantation, making pregnancy very difficult to achieve or maintain. This isn't a big shock or, to be honest, news - it's been known for some time that CB1 knock-out mice had trouble holding a pregnancy. But, it can't be the whole story, since so many hippies keep having kids!

On a totally different note, a Purdue researcher has won FDA approval for a novel type of protease inhibitor, which is touted as effective against resistant strains of HIV. I'm not clear why the new drug, Darunavir (TMC-114), is any less likely to cause viral resistance to develop, and why, if it is, this has not been a MUCH bigger sensation. hmm.

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