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Vanderbilt Team Seeks Genetic, Molecular Factors Involved in Bariatric Surgery Impact

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Vanderbilt University researchers have received a $1.2 million grant to investigate the cellular, molecular, and genetic factors involved in metabolic and hormonal changes that are caused by bariatric surgery.

The Vanderbilt team received the National Institutes of Health funding to discover the causes for the "many metabolic and hormonal changes" that are the result of bariatric surgery, commonly used for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes, Vanderbilt said late last week.

These changes, which have been documented in recent research, are poorly understood but may be involved in some of the beneficial effects of bariatric surgery.

As an example, Vanderbilt said, around 60 to 80 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes see the disease completely resolve after bariatric surgery. These effects often are seen before any significant weight loss takes place and cannot be explained by decreased food intake alone.

The research team plan to use mouse models to study how cellular signaling in the brain and gut is impacted by bariatric surgery, and to determine why the surgery fails to produce weight loss in some patients. They also plan to use the BioVu DNA Databank at Vanderbilt to identify genes that are associated with this failure.

"The reason it's important to work in the mouse is that it allows us to use state-of-the-art genetic technologies to understand the mechanism of bariatric surgery," Roger Cone, principal investigator on the project and chair of Vanderbilt's Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, said in a statement.

David Wasserman, director of Vanderbilt's Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, said the grant "allows us to bring together novel and diverse expertise in central control of feeding, GI function, and clinical bariatric surgery."