genomicaThe Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi (UASLP) in coordination with other national and U.S. educational institutions, develop an ambitious project to find the genetic basis of obesity. Their main objective is to counteract this condition, which affects both Mexico and the U.S. populations; forcing their governments to invest each year millions in drugs, prevention and care programs for new diseases arising from excessive weight.

The study, ‘Genetic-Metabolic Diseases in Mexico’ (GMDM) aims to identify genes associated with the development of obesity and problems associated with it, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Mexico has the first place in overweight and obese adult population worldwide, and the second in childhood obesity. Efforts to reverse these problems have not seemed to yield results, since statistics are kept in the red numbers.

This study is an inter-institutional project; since 11 higher education institutions plus a Texas institute, headed by Dr. Raul Bastarrachea Sosa, are collaborating.  GMDM’s Project Research Coordinator is Claudia Escudero Lourdes, a researcher at the School of Chemical Sciences at the UASLP.

Escudero Lourdes explained that the project includes 30 families of 10 members. Each family has to have relatives belonging to three generations; all of them have to live in the city and be exposed to factors that favor obesity development.

Once people accept to cooperate voluntarily, they go to the UNIGEM – Metabolic Genomics Unit – where a health report is prepared. This records participant’s measurements of arms, waist, height, blood pressure and metabolic rate; plus collects personal data and eating habits. Then, a diet is established; which composition is revealed to the participants. Finally, they are channeled to the laboratory, where samples are taken; with the aim of knowing how their bodies metabolize the established food scheme.

Data from the families’ diet, will allow us to know which genes are associated with an increased risk of developing obesity, and how these genes are passed down from generation to generation,” says Dr. Escudero Lourdes. She also informs that the project has eight years of existence; which started with a contribution from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, and the School of Nursing at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL).

The study aims to diagnose three thousand patients in Mexico. GMDM also seeks to generate initial results at the genetic level in the first six years. According to Claudia Escudero, 80 percent chance of obesity is due to environmental factors, such as lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, diet and exposure to toxins in the air; while the remaining 20 percent, “definitely falls into genes”.

Bastarrachea said each person consists of about 20 thousand genes encoding or sending messages in the protein form to produce physiological effects.

“We took patient’s DNA samples before and after meals to find out who is at risk of getting diabetes or heart diseases, caused by having troubles metabolizing food,” he said

Through: Agencia ID