A research team from the UAB led by Professor Fatima Bosch has managed to cure obesity and type 2 diabetes in mice using gene therapy.
A single administration of an adeno-associated viral vector (AAV) carrying the FGF21 (Fibroblast Growth Factor 21) gene, resulted in genetic manipulation of the liver, adipose tissue or skeletal muscle to continuously produce the FGF21 protein. This protein is a hormone secreted naturally by several organs that acts on many tissues for the maintenance of correct energy metabolism. By inducing FGF21 production through gene therapy the animal lost weight and decreased insulin resistance, which causes the development of type 2 diabetes.
The therapy has been tested successfully in two different mouse models of obesity, induced either by diet or genetic mutations. In addition, the authors observed that when administered to healthy mice, the gene therapy promoted healthy ageing and prevented age-associated weight gain and insulin resistance.