Today in Research: A Gene Mutation That Causes One to Eat

Discovered: A fattening gene mutation, we're doing a good job keeping the turtles safe, what Earth was like 2.5 billion years ago, and what makes the most popular orbits in the Solar System popular.

  • A gene mutation that will make you very, very much fatter. There's good news and bad news with this discovery. First the bad news: A gene mutation causes one to uncontrollably eat. Though that sounds delightful from an eating perspective -- one never gets full! -- it sounds mighty unhealthy. A defect in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) gene prohibits brain neurons from transmitting leptin and insulin chemical signals through the brain, according to the research. Leptin and insulin tell our bodies to stop eating when we're full. The good part of all of this is that this could lead to a scientific cure for fatness. "This discovery may open up novel strategies to help the brain control body weight," explained researcher Baoji Xu, which sounds both terrifying (hello, abuse!) and exciting (goodbye, obesity epidemic). [Georgetown University Medical Center]
  • We're doing a good job keeping the sea turtles safe. Good. Those turtles, if they are anything like their animated portrayal in Finding Nemo, are too cool (and adorable!) to die on our account. But we don't need to worry about that, because they are doing okay for now thanks to Marine Protected Areas, according to new research. Marina Protected Areas are areas where fishing and human activity are prohibited. Thirty-five percent of the world's sea turtles hang out in these sea spas, which are lush with algae and sea grasses for the turtles to eat. That's a much higher percentage than researchers expected, leading them to believe these areas are sustaining the population. "There has been debate over the value of MPAs, but this research provides compelling evidence that they may be effective in providing safe foraging habitats for large marine creatures, such as green turtles," explained Professor Brendan Godley. [Global Ecology and Biogegraphy]

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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