London: Scientists have identified what they claim is the "master switch" gene which causes obesity, a breakthrough which could help treat fat-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
A team, led by Tim Spector of King's College London, which has made the discovery, claims that the DNA controls other genes found in the body's fat cells.
In fact, previous researches have already identified a gene -- KLF14 -- as being linked to type 2 diabetes and high levels of cholesterol, but till now they didn't know what role it played.
Now, the British scientists analysed more than 20,000 genes in fat samples taken from under the skin of 800 female, British twins. A link was found between the KLF14 gene and the levels of distant genes found in fat tissue showing that KLF14 acts as the controller, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
The findings were confirmed in 600 fat samples from a separate group of people from Iceland.
The study, published in the latest edition of 'Nature Genetics' journal, revealed that fat plays an important role in people's susceptibility to metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Drugs could be developed to target this regulating gene, say the scientists.