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Lose Weight by Exhaling Fat July 8, 2009

Posted by Matt Brown in Genetics.
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No this is not a joke.  A study published in Cell Metabolism shows that genetic alterations in mice allowed them to convert fat into carbon dioxide.   Let me say that again.  Convert fat into carbon dioxide.

When I first read that my jaw dropped and I shouted “what the fuck” probably louder than I should have.  Even to a science nut like me who thinks that proper application of technology is the answer to most of the worlds problems and that the singularity is only decades away, this sounds crazy.   But on further reading and retrospection it’s actually not too far fetched.

According to the article the researchers injected DNA from bacteria into cultured human cells.  In bacteria the DNA coded for enzymes that converted fat into sugar but in the human cells they found the enzymes converted fat into carbon dioxide.  They then injected the genes into the livers of lab mice and found the same effect.  Fat was converted not into sugar but into CO2, and the mice who had the new genes stayed thin and athletic despite being on a high fat, high calorie diet.  Many more tests need to be run to determine if there are any side effects but at first glance it seems safe.

Now I realize this sounds pretty far fetched, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.  Fat is made up of essentialy just three molecules: hydrogen, carbon and oxygen.   As a matter of fact, most food is made up of those three molecules plus nitrogen.  If two substances are made out of the same stuff, all you really need to do to change one into the other is rearrange the structure of the molecules (think coal and diamonds.)  Since the raw material are already in place, the right enzyme could certainly manage to do the trick.  Perhaps someday all you’ll need to do to lose weight is take a deep breath.




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