Magazine article USA TODAY

Molecular Switch May Hold Key to Cure

Magazine article USA TODAY

Molecular Switch May Hold Key to Cure

Article excerpt

How a molecular switch regulates fat and cholesterol production has been identified by researchers at Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, a step that may help advance treatments for metabolic syndrome, the constellation of diseases that includes obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure.

"We have identified a key protein that acts together with a family of molecular switches to turn on cholesterol and fat--or lipid--production," says principal investigator Anders Naar, assistant professor of cell biology at Harvard University Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. "The identification of this protein interaction and the nature of the molecular interface may one day allow us to pursue a much more comprehensive approach to the treatment of metabolic syndrome."

High levels of cholesterol and lipids are linked to a number of interrelated medical conditions and diseases, including obesity, type II diabetes, fatty liver, and high blood pressure. This set of conditions and diseases, known as metabolic syndrome, is afflicting a rapidly increasing portion of society and serves as a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the developed world. …

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