Sunday, July 19, 2009

Genetically altered mice can convert fat into carbon dioxide?

Guess what? Researchers at UCLA have shown that mice can be genetically altered to convert fat into carbon dioxide... AND they can eat a diet of "fast food" and still stay skinny. Sounds like a dream, doesn't it?

The researchers were inspired by plants and bacteria, which digest fat differently than humans and mammals. Plant seeds typically contain a significant amount of fat, and when they germinate, a set of enzymes called the "glyoxylate shunt" help them convert the fat into sugar. The researchers then introduced the genes for these enzymes into cultured human cells and found that the cells converted the fat completely into carbon dioxide. Then they introduced the genes into the livers of mice and found that the mice stayed skinny even when they ate a high-fat diet, and they also showed lower cholesterol levels and lower fat levels in the liver. What happened to all the fat? Well, it wasn't converted into sugar. It was converted into carbon dioxide!

Could you imagine if all the people in the world were treated with this "glyoxylate shunt therapy" and went on their merry way eating tons of fatty foods with no *apparent* consequence -- how much more greenhouse gases would we be adding to the atmosphere? :)

Not sure why, but I keep thinking of the humans in WALL-E ...

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