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09/16/2019 News Briefing > Media Briefing


[Medical Daily] Improving Weight Loss by Exploiting Genetic Code

Professor Kim Yong-hee (Department of Bio-engineering) performs a study to avoid side effects of anti-obesity drugs


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There are many existing ways developed to overcome obesity and losing lots of weight. Prescription weight loss medications are increasingly popular, aside from the traditional way of going on a diet and exercising.

A Hanyang University research team led by professor Kim Yong-hee (Department of Bio-engineering) looked into ways to improve weight loss by exploiting our genetic code, and to avoid the side effects of anti-obesity drugs. The research team used “CRISPR interference (CRISPRi),” which is a modified CRISPR gene editing tool for the study. The CRISPRi does not alter the genetic code permanently but simply interferes with gene expression, allowing either activation or repression of gene expression. It regulates the genome instead of modifying it.
By applying CRISPRi technology, Kim and the research team could reduce the fabp4 expression level by up to 60 percent. Obese and diabetic mice were injected peptide-targeting CRISPRi twice a week for as long as six weeks, and the result turned out that the tested mice lost around 20 percent of body weight. Consumed food was not different from normal, which indicated that the weight loss did not occur due to eating less.
The study is meaningful in that it approaches obesity in a different perspective compared to the traditional pharmaceutical approach.
The research team concluded that they still need to work on the clinical application of injecting peptide-targeting CRISPRi in a human model. Whether the regimen can be applied twice a week for up to 6 weeks is still uncertain.

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