March 09, 2009
Brain Gene Therapy Cuts Obesity In Mice

Some day our brains will be genetically reprogrammed to reduce damaging behavior and damaging metabolic responses to conditions.

COLUMBUS, Ohio With obesity reaching epidemic levels, researchers at the Ohio State University Medical Center are studying a potentially long-term treatment that involves injecting a gene directly into one of the critical feeding and weight control centers of the brain.

"Obesity significantly increases the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers," says Dr. Matthew During, senior author and professor in Ohio State Medical Center's department of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics. "Our findings represent a promising new treatment for obesity that could ultimately provide a much safer and more effective approach than some conventional therapies."

Scientists have discovered that a particular gene, BDNF, can result in improved insulin sensitivity, reduced fat mass and weight loss when active in the hypothalamus. The findings are published online in the journal Nature Medicine.

According to first author Lei Cao, assistant professor in the department of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, the study involved injecting the BDNF gene in normal mice, diabetic mice and mice fed with a high fat diet, to determine how the gene transfer would affect their weight. "The gene was active in the overweight mice, but as they lost weight the gene expression was essentially 'dialed down,' using a novel RNA interference approach, thus stopping the weight from continuing to decrease and allowing a stable target weight to be reached," she says.

You know where this is going: Will we choose our own brain gene therapy? Or will governments choose how our brains get reprogrammed? I figure some governments will reprogram brains of criminals at a minimum. If genetic reprogramming of, for example, pedophiles would work would you support reprogramming of brains as a condition of parole from prison?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 09 11:18 PM  Brain Appetite


Comments
Finnsense said at March 10, 2009 12:25 AM:

"If genetic reprogramming of, for example, pedophiles would work would you support reprogramming of brains as a condition of parole from prison?"

Sure, so long as the paedophile chose it. I'm already in favour of offering paedophiles castration though, so it's not such a surprise. More difficult is whether to reprogramme unruly teenagers for example, whose behaviour, while unacceptable, is most likely to be temporary.

Jens Fiederer said at March 10, 2009 9:15 AM:

I agree, as long as the pedophile consented - and it was a condition for parole, not release.

Especially if they could be reprogrammed to desire geriatric widows, who could use a bit more desire.

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