'Gluttony' gene tells us to just keep on munching
A SINGLE gene's effect on the brain can result in non-stop eating, research has shown.
Scientists believe the "gluttony gene" may be responsible for cases of obesity caused by out-of-control appetite.
The Bdnf gene variant was studied in mice. It was found to prevent brain neurons from transmitting signals that tell the body it has eaten enough.
"This discovery may open up novel strategies to help the brain control body weight," said lead researcher Dr Baoki Xu, from Georgetown University in the US.
Hunger and satiety, the sensation of "feeling full", are governed by a complex balance of hormonal and neuronal signals.
Two hormones in particular, leptin and insulin, released in the body after a meal play a key role.
Their chemical signals activate neurons in the hypothalamus region of the brain that trigger satiety. But if the connection is not made, the craving for food continues.
The research opens up the possibility of tackling obesity by using drugs that stimulate Bdnf activity in the brain.