The Virus Factor: Is there a connection with obesity?

Virus Factor

Wired.com recently detailed the AD-36 virus and it’s correlation with obesity in humans. This discovery is a fascinating tale of its own, as one medical doctor turned fat researcher pursued answers to help his patients.

Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar followed his father’s footsteps and ran a clinic Mumbai, India to treat overweight and obese patients. Dhurandhar was constantly frustrated that he could not produce answers that would keep his patients from re-gaining weight. “Patients kept coming back,” he recalls.

A serendipitous tea with a family friend and veterinary pathologist gave Dhurandhar a clue that upended his life on a new journey, one might say an obsession.  The pathologist friend was investigating an epidemic in the poultry industry, and something he said sparked a connection in Dhurandhar. The virus causing the illnesses had an interesting symptom–the infected chickens had fat deposited in the abdomen. Could there be a link?

Through several years, a move halfway across the globe, and a healthy dose of skepticism from the research community, Dhurandhar pursued his research, ultimately identifying that a human adenovirus, AD-36, was correlated to higher fat and obesity in humans.

How does a virus lead to fat?

According to Dhurandhar’s research partner, Richard Atkinson, there are three ways that it could:

  • Increased uptake of glucose from the blood
  • Increased creation of fat molecules through fatty acid synthase
  • Creation of more fat cells to hold all the fat by committing stem cells into fat

“So the fat cells that exist are getting bigger, and the body is creating more of them,” says Atkinson.

Read the Wired.com article.

Get the full story in The Secret Life of Fat, now available online and in bookstores.

 

 

 

 

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