March 8, 2012

The Fountain of Youth May be Hiding in Mice!

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — We dream of a world where we can eat whatever we like and not worry about the consequences, like weight gain and health issues, and now we might be a step closer. A new study shows mice with an extra dose of a known anti-cancer gene lose weight even as their appetites grow and also live longer.

In a case study, researchers studied a tumor suppressor commonly lost in human cancers. Mice were given an extra dose of a known anti-cancer gene, known as Pten. Not only did these mice not get cancer, but also they also lost weight even as their appetites grew.

Cancer protection aside, the animals lived longer than usual. They were also less prone to insulin resistance and had less fat in their livers. Those benefits seem to trace back to the fact that those Pten mice were burning more calories thanks to overactive brown fat. Studies in isolated brown fat cells confirmed that a boost in Pten increases the activity of those cells. Pten also made it easier for brown fat to form.

"This tumor suppressor protects against metabolic damage associated with aging by turning on brown fat," Manuel Serrano of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, was quoted saying. "A small compound inhibitor that mimics the effects of Pten also came with those varied benefits. That's encouraging news for the prospect of finding a drug that might do for us what the extra Pten gene did for the mice."

SOURCE: Cell Press Journal Cell Metabolism, March 2012.