The existence of a link between obesity and diabetes is well established, but until recently, scientists lacked key details that could lead to better treatment. Researchers at King's College London and the University of Oxford may have turned a corner with a recent study with the discovery of the "master regulator" gene that controls the behavior of fat in the body. The breakthrough is expected to improve not only how we understand the development of obesity but also how doctors treat a host of obesity-related diseases.
For non-genetics experts, the importance of so-called "breakthroughs" can be tough to digest. Since the 1970s, much of the genetic research being conducted addresses genomics, or the study of an organism's hereditary information. Genes basically work like switches, and the presence of a certain gene lead a person down the red hair track instead of the black hair track. Some, however, act as master switches and control processes throughout the body. Presence of a master gene serves less to send a person down a certain track than divert them entirely to a different railway line. In this instance, the line leads to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or all of the above.