Researchers have identified a 'master switch' for the production of fat in mice, potentially paving the way for a new obesity treatment in humans.
Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute suggest that by turning up the equivalent switch in humans, they may be able to prevent them from putting on excessive weight.
The 'switch' is responsible for the production of brown fat, a type of tissue that counters obesity caused by overeating.
The study found that a gene and protein known as PRDM16 controls the production of brown fat cells and Dr Bruce Spiegelman revealed that the gene "can turn on a broad programme of brown fat cell development".
Dr Bruce Spiegelman explained that adult humans do not have a large quantity of brown fat, "and from a therapeutic perspective the question is whether that pathway can be reactivated", he added.
The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism and the findings could prove important as the number of UK patients requiring obesity treatment is rising.