Researchers have discovered that a gene known to cause cancer may also playing a role in determining if someone becomes obese.
Recent findings suggest that the gene Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) could even be controlled with certain therapies to prevent or reverse obesity and obesity related cancers.
Researchers were completely unaware of this new function of AEG-1.
AEG-1 interacts with a variety of proteins to regulate genetic functions related to vitamins, hormones and lipids. Researchers have been studying the gene for years, investigating its role in disease formation and metabolism.
AEG-1 blocks thyroid hormone function and contributes to nonthyroidal illness syndrome, a condition that is common in patients with liver cancer and others who are starving or gravely ill.
Researchers also found that AEG-1 may play a key role in regulating fat metabolism.
The report shows that the absence of AEG-1 leads to increased activity of several factors in the intestines that prevents absorption of fat. Researchers were able to conclude that overexpression of the gene causes the accumulation of fat.
Research and studies have demonstrated that a fatty liver is a main cause of liver cancer. This shows the direct correlation between liver cancer and obesity. Now experts are aware that all cancers can be caused by obesity.
In preclinical experiments in the lab, researchers created a new drug therapy to target liver cancer cells. Researchers took molecules that block the expression of AEG-1 and combined them with retinoic acid. Through the use of nanoparticles, researchers were able to develop a system to deliver the combination intravenously to mice with transplanted human liver cancer cells.
During the preclinical experiments, researchers saw the tumors disappear. The success of the experiment suggests that this might also be an effective way to treat liver cancer in human patients.
Researchers are continuing to look more closely at the role of AEG-1 in metabolism and obesity-associated cancers by studying effects in mice being fed high-fat diets.