Research news

New Scientific Achievement at the University of Ljubljana: Discovery of the Leanness Gene

Publish Date: 20.06.2016

Category: Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 2 Zero hunger, 3 Good health and well-being (Indicators)

A group of scientists from the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, the National Institute of Chemistry, the main research author Prof. Simon Horvath and their colleagues from the University of Edinburgh discovered a new gene: TST (triosulfate sulfurtransferase), which contributes to protection from the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The basis of the discovery comprised genetic and molecular analysis of "lean" and "obese" mouse lines which were selected for lower or higher percentages of body fat though more than sixty generations. This allowed for "natural" genetic variables of "lean" or "obese" genes to accumulate in one or the other line, which enables more efficient discovery of new genes related to resistance or risk in the development of obesity. Namely, obesity and leanness are complex characteristics that depend on the cumulative contribution from a large number of genes, environmental factors and reciprocal interactions between them.

From the standpoint of potential usefulness of this discovery in human medicine, it is important that elevated levels of TST were detected in the fatty tissue of lean and healthy people while low levels were detected with obese people or diabetes patients.

The scientists expect that new and more efficient drugs that stimulate TST or therapies with new approaches of synthesis biology could lead to development of complementary new therapies for obesity related diabetes. Since these kinds of drugs target the gene in the peripheral tissue, such as fatty tissue, and not the complex system for bodyweight monitoring in the brain, the researchers in this study believe that such therapies could be developed faster and that thy would be safer.

The study, which was mainly financed by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) and the British "Welcome Trust" foundation, was published in the journal Nature Science on 6 June 2016.

More information on the achievement can be found here.

back to list