11.2 million euros for obesity prevention

30-Jun-2023 - Germany

To prevent the further dramatic rise in obesity, a new European research project has set itself the goal of preventing the disease already in childhood. At the start of the five-year OBELISK project, which also involves researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE), the international consortium met for the first time in France in early June.

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According to a 2022 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), about one in three primary school children in Europe is overweight or morbidly obese, i.e. obese - and the trend is rising. The number of obese teenagers has risen from 6 percent in 1980 to an alarming 32 percent. Since effective treatment of obesity in adulthood is usually complex and difficult, prevention and treatment of obesity should be targeted at an early age to reduce the risk of serious secondary diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The new international research project OBELISK (Prevention of obesity throughout the life course) therefore aims to prevent childhood obesity and tackle its underlying causes. A total of 15 partners from universities, research institutions, and small and medium-sized enterprises from nine European countries are participating in the five-year research project, including the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE).

Elucidation of genetic changes

Prof. Annette Schürmann, head of the Department of Experimental Diabetology, and PD Dr. Heike Vogel, head of the Genetics of Obesity Research Group, have been working for many years on genetic alterations that contribute to the development of obesity. Together with Dr. Meriem Ouni, research associate in the Department of Experimental Diabetology, they will focus on (epi)genetic changes in muscle and adipose tissue in the OBELISK project. "To do this, we will compare mice after an intermittent fasting program and after a four-week physical training program," Schürmann explains. "In addition, we will compare obese patients before and one year after bariatric, or weight-reducing, surgery," Vogel adds.

In collaboration with the other project partners, the identified gene alterations will then be compared with those already known in children. The most promising candidate genes will then be manipulated in vitro and in vivo using CRISPR/Cas9 technology to characterize their functions. By combining human genetics, experimental characterization and predictive modeling, the project aims to identify novel obesity genes that could be important for future drug development.

11.2 million euros for lifelong obesity prevention

On June 6-7, 2023, the OBELISK consortium met for the first time in Lille at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) to jointly launch the project. The research project is funded with 9.5 million euros from the European Union's research and innovation program "Horizon Europe" and a further 1.7 million euros from the funding agencies for research in Great Britain and Switzerland. The project team from DIfE will receive around 400,000 euros for its research.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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