Researchers have uncovered genetic variants that lead people to feel full all the time, People reports, adding that the finding could spur to new drugs to prevent obesity.
Researchers led by University of Cambridge's Sadaf Farooqi conducted genetic association studies of more than 61 nonsynonymous variants in the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) gene using UK Biobank data. Previous work has linked MC4R to feeling satiated after a meal and found that disruptions to the gene affect obesity risk.
As they report in Cell, the researchers found that gain-of-function variants in MC4R were more likely to be associated with lower BMI, obesity risk, and risk of type 2 diabetes, while loss-of-function variants were linked to increased obesity risk. The gain-of-function variants appear to influence β-arrestin recruitment and the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, they add.
"This study drives home the fact that genetics plays a major role in why some people are obese — and that some people are fortunate enough to have genes that protect them from obesity," Farooqi says in a statement.
Co-lead author Luca Lotta from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit adds that their findings could inform searches for new weight loss therapies.