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A complex regulatory circuit created from different genes and implanted in fat mice caused them to lose weight, and researchers say something similar could help severely overweight people slim down without surgery.
Could a new implant turn the tide of global obesity?
Scientists at ETH-Zurich have created a complex circuit of human genes that can be embedded in the body to measure the fat levels in the blood.
When the genetic dieting aid detects excess fat levels, it will release an appetite suppressing hormone so the body feels full.
The biotechnologists, headed by Martin Fussenegger, first combined genes that produce specific proteins and reactions. They then added them to human cells and put those into tiny capsules.
The capsules were implanted into obese mice that were fed fatty food.
“Instead of placing the mice on a diet to achieve weight loss, we kept giving the animals as much high-calorie food as they could eat,” Fussenegger said in a press release.
The fat mice stopped eating once the implants kicked in. Once the levels of fat in their blood dropped, the circuit stopped releasing the appetite suppressant, but they ate less overall.
The mice saw noticeable weight loss, according to the study.
Fussenegger said he hopes the implant will be a viable alternative to “invasive interventions” like liposuction and gastric band surgery for obese individuals.
Scientists said it will take “many years” to develop something like this that will work on humans, but they believe it can be done.
The research was published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.