Obesity is a disease that affects at least 39 million Americans, and public health experts are increasingly using the term "epidemic" to describe the problem. One in five Americans is obese and more than half are overweight. Being fat raises the risk of many potentially fatal health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, it's believed that obesity is linked to at least 300,000 deaths in the US annually.
Researchers have pinpointed a gene( PPARgamma) that puts the finishing touch on turning cells into fat. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the drug company Pfizer, working independently, and identified the gene which is involved in the process of fat cell development. Targeting this gene could lead to new therapies against obesity.
Creating fat cells is a two-step process: generalized cells first turn into transitional fat cells, then PPARgamma helps turn those transitional cells into fat cells. The PPARgamma gene actually produces two forms of its protein, called PPARgamma1 and PPARgamma2. The forms are very similar, except that PPARgamma2 has an extra amino acid on one end. Taking these concepts into consideration, the researchers inhibited roughly 50 percent of the production of the PPARgamma2 form.