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Hunger Genes Prove Complex

(Photo by Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(Dr. Brian McDonough) Dr. Brian McDonough
Dr. Brian McDonough has been medical editor at KYW Newsradio for more...
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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Researchers are very interested in isolating a gene or genes that suppress hunger.

Two Stanford researchers have been looking at what is called a biological break for a hunger hormone. In other words, a competing hormone that seems to counter the urge to eat. The substance is called obestatin. But it is very strange: the same gene that triggers hunger triggers the blockage of hunger.

The news is not all good.

When studied in the lab, obestatin made rats eat less, but they also lost weight. The reason they lost weight was that it made them feel sick. They did not want to eat anything, and they were vomiting.

It is very hard to out guess nature and often one step forward in research leads to two steps back.