A Vaccine to Prevent Obesity? Scientists Link Virus to Weight Gain

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Could there be a vaccine to help the ones struggling with weight? This could be a reality in the future, as scientists are getting closer to it after finding a link between obesity and a virus.

Compared to individuals that have a healthy weight, the obese patients have four times more Adenovirus-36. What is this virus?

The Virus that Adds Body Weight

Research using animals proved that this virus is responsible for increasing the body weight by 15%.

Considering that the population has seen a rise in clinical obesity, researchers are focusing on finding a solution to this issue.

The Adenovirus-36 has two effects on the human body. It irritates the fat cells, which causes them to become inflamed, and it also prevents the fat cells to die or to be eliminated by the body. As these inflamed cells cannot be naturally flushed away, they accumulate in the body and cause obesity.

Studies on animals and human tissue have linked this type of virus with weight gain. Normally, the Adenoviruses are the ones causing colds or eye and bowel infections. A type of adenovirus closely related to adenovirus-36 was proven to make mice and monkeys gain weight.

Dr. Wilmore Webley (University of Massachusetts) studies the virus on breast cancer patients. He explains that there is a vaccine for adenoviruses that are related to respiratory problems and it already is used by the US Army, meaning that the vaccine for the obesity virus should be in the making.

In an interview with a media outlet, Dr. Richard Atkinson (Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin) explains that he has patented a vaccine for this virus, but he cannot put it on the market because of lack of funds.

South Korean academics have tested the vaccine in animals and got positive results: the virus didn’t infect fat cells.

Will this Lifesaving Vaccine Work?

Dr. Atkinson said that this virus could be perfect for young people as a protection from the virus that will no longer be able to make fat cells accumulate. Considering how many people in the world die every year from obesity-related diseases, a vaccine could be lifesaving.

However, Professor Nick Finer, who is an obesity expert (University College London) says that we need more proof for the link between the virus and weight gain:

“No matter how many association studies are reported, they do not prove causality.”

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.