DUARTE (CBSLA.com) — Researchers at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte may have found the key to ending obesity and curing cancer.
A study by Drs. Sanjay Awasthi and Sharad Singhal, released in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, discovered that deleting the gene that produces protein RLIP76 in mice kept the rodents from developing cancer and packing on the pounds.
Awasthi said RLIP works like a fan, with an exhaust sucking out toxins from cells.
He said normal cells have a little RLIP, but cancer cells have a lot, which is why researchers got the idea to turn off the RLIP-producing gene in mice.
So far, 10 types of cancer have been tested on the animals.
"These mice are almost completely resistant to those cancers. You can't even take a cancer and implant it into their skin because the cancer fails to grow," Awasthi said.
The researchers realized that blocking RLIP production prevented mice in the study from gaining excess weight, even when given a high-fat diet.
Awasthi said they also came across another surprising side effect.
"Inhibiting (the gene) causes the blood sugar to drop, the cholesterol to drop and triglycerides to drop," he said.
Singhal said in all the mice they studied, turning off the gene had no adverse impact because regular cells have all the RLIP they need.
"The protein is not completely lost," he said.
Awasthi and Singhal said several promising drugs have the potential to block the protein from forming in humans.
The men are in the process of putting an application together for the Food and Drug Administration. If all goes well, they could get approval to begin human trials within the year.
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