A study of proteins circulating in the bloodstream has identified several proteins that may play a causal role in obesity, making them potential targets for drugs and therapies.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar examined more than 1,000 proteins in samples taken from individuals in Qatar as part of the Qatar Metabolomics Study on Diabetes, alongside data from European studies.
In total, more than 4,600 individuals were involved in the three previous studies. The work was conducted in collaboration with the German Research Center for Environmental Health.
Using genetics to isolate the relevant proteins, they found that six proteins had a causal relationship with body mass index, even when other lifestyle factors were taken into consideration. Three of those proteins were found to contribute towards obesity, and at the same time, reflect the biological mechanisms resulting from increased body mass index.
The findings do not negate the need for people to avoid smoking, eat balanced diets, and perform exercise, but they do open up the possibility that medicinal interventions may one day be used to mitigate the role that these proteins play.
Dr. Karsten Suhre, professor of physiology and biophysics and director of Bioinformatics Core at WCM-Q said: ‘Common diseases are a result of a complex interplay between genetics and a broad range of environmental perturbations. Environmental and lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity and exposure to toxins can activate highly interacting protein networks, which in turn, may drive molecular mechanisms toward disease. This is likely the case for obesity, where environmental contributions to body mass index are well recognized.’
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and WCM-Q has the technology to examine them at a high degree of detail. In addition to finding evidence that six proteins had a causal relationship with obesity, the researchers also identified a further 150 proteins that were significantly associated with a higher body mass index.
Dr. Shaza Zaghlool, research associate in physiology and biophysics at WCM-Q, and first author of the paper, said: ‘Although we could not prove evidence for causality by these proteins, their association with obesity is still important. Such associations provide us with a greater understanding of the biological role that these proteins play in the development of obesity, and ultimately, in the role that obesity plays in the risk of developing diabetes, well beyond the usual lifestyle factors that everyone knows. This increases the possibility of developing drugs and therapies in the future that target obesity on a molecular level, together with the standard therapies like diet and exercise.’
The work was supported by the Biomedical Research Program at WCM-Q, a program funded by Qatar Foundation. Dr. Suhre’s work is also supported by Qatar National Research Fund.
The study can be read in full at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21542-4
From Sputnik-1 to Sputnik V: Russian scientific achievements
Moscow, April 7, 2021 (AFP) -Russia boasts a rich history of scientific invention across a wide variety of fields, from the Sputnik satellite to the coronavirus vaccine of the same name.
On the 60th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space, here are some of the country's most notable scientific and technological achievements:
- Sputnik satellite -In one of the most significant modern inventions, Russia launched the first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957.
At the time, the beep-beep sent back to Earth from Sputnik-1 represented the start of the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War.
Sent to space by an intercontinental ballistic missile, which forced Washington to realise that Moscow would be able to strike its territory.
The Soviets maintained their lead in the initial years of the race. They boasted the first manned flight to space by Gagarin on April 12, 1961, the first spacewalk four years later by Alexei Leonov and the first lunar probe in 1966.
But the United States beat them to the moon with the first manned landing in 1969.
- The AK-47 –
Ten years before Sputnik, Russia had invented a more nefarious tool: the Kalashnikov assault rifle, also known as the AK-47 and created by Soviet military engineer Mikhail Kalashnikov.
With some 100 million Kalashnikovs currently in circulation, the weapon became ubiquitous globally for its low price and reliability in harsh climates from frozen tundras to dusty Middle Eastern environments.
The weapon also became a symbol of struggles against colonisation and still adorns the flag of Mozambique, representing the struggle for national sovereignty.
- Tetris and Kaissa –
Less deadly was Russia's invention of Tetris, though it is just as popular around the world.
The tile-matching video game was thought up in 1984 by software engineer Alexei Pajitnov, whose stated ambition was to make people happy through computers.
Russia also used software to revolutionise an existing game: chess.
The chess powerhouse, which as the Soviet Union held the world title from 1948 to 1972, invented the chess computer programme Kaissa that won the world computer chess championship in 1974.
- Hypersonic weapons -But the bread and butter of Russia's inventions has long been military technology.
Most recently Russia has led the way, it has claimed, in developing hypersonic missiles that can go faster than the speed of sound, which would render existing missile defence technology useless.
Vladimir Putin in 2018 unveiled a nuclear hypersonic missile system dubbed Avangard that he described as ‘invulnerable’.
The Russian president said its creation represented a technological breakthrough comparable to the launch of Sputnik.
- Sputnik V vaccine -Harkening back to Sputnik even more recently, Russia registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine, which it named Sputnik V, in August 2020 in the midst of the world's worst pandemic in a century.
Although the move triggered criticism both at home and abroad over the fast-track procedure, a leading medical journal later said it is safe and highly effective.
The vaccine has been registered for use in dozens of countries.
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