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So Much for that Gym Membership

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute may have the best news for couch potatoes since the invention of the Thighmaster — a newly identified hormone that changes white fat cells into brown fat cells, reports Technology Review's Karen Weintraub. The naturally occurring hormone "acts like exercise on muscle tissue," Weintraub says, by burning calories and improving the body's ability to process insulin. In their new study published in Nature, the team shows that the hormone — named irisin after the Greek messenger goddess Iris — is found in both humans and mice. "It pushes cells to transform from white fat — globules that serve as reservoirs for excess calories — into brown fat, which generates heat," Weintraub says. The researchers speculate that it may serve as an evolutionary response to cold, as it triggers shivering. In the study, mice that were given irisin lost weight within 10 days of treatment. "Irisin also appeared to reduce the damage done by a high-fat diet, protecting mice against diet-induced obesity and diabetes," Weintraub adds. Researchers are hopeful that the discovery could lead to the development of therapeutics for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and possibly even neuromuscular disorders.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.