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科学美国人60秒:能让脂肪燃烧的基因

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Do you have skinny genes? And I’m not talking about the pants you wore in college but can’t fit into anymore. No, skinny g-e-n-e-s genes are factors found in folks who are naturally svelte. And researchers have just identified one that appears to tell the body’s adipose tissue to burn more fat.

你有瘦的基因吗?我说的不是你在大学里穿的牛仔裤,但是现在已经穿不进去了。不,g-e-n-e-s基因是在天生苗条的人身上发现的因素。研究人员刚刚发现了一种似乎可以让身体脂肪组织燃烧更多脂肪的物质。

“We all know these people who can eat whatever they want, but never gain any weight.”

“我们都认识这样的人,他们可以想吃什么就吃什么,但体重永远不会增加。”

Josef Penninger is a geneticist at the University of British Columbia. He says that individuals who are effortlessly trim may hold the key to understanding obesity. See, scientists interested in learning how we control our weight have traditionally focused on the things that make you fat, like diet or metabolism.

约瑟夫·潘宁是英属哥伦比亚大学的遗传学家。他说,那些轻松苗条的人知道肥胖的关键。想要了解我们如何控制体重的科学家们传统上关注的都是会让你变胖的因素,比如饮食或新陈代谢。

“But not really studied why people actually stay skinny. So we thought we’d just turn around the fields and…study genetics of thinness.”Penninger and his colleagues started out by searching a database…maintained by a genome center in Estonia…for its most slender registrants. And they weeded out people who were listed as having anorexia or other conditions that alter body fat. Then they looked for genetic markers that track with these Skinny Petes.

但并没有真正研究过为什么人们会保持苗条。所以我们认为,只需要了解这个领域,研究瘦的遗传学。潘宁格和同事们首先搜索了一个数据库,这个数据库是由爱沙尼亚的一个基因组中心维护。他们剔除了那些被列为患有厌食症或其他改变身体脂肪的疾病的人。然后寻找与这些瘦骨嶙峋的宠物相关的遗传标记。

One gene, in particular, caught their eye. ALK…or the gene for anaplastic lymphoma kinase…is a stretch of DNA whose mutant form has been associated with human cancers. “But its normal normal function had never been established.” So the scientists made mutant fruit flies, and mutant mice:

其中有一个基因引起了他们的注意。ALK,即间变性淋巴瘤激酶基因,是一段DNA,其突变形式与人类癌症有关。但它的正常功能从未建立。因此,科学家们制造了变异果蝇和变异老鼠:

“To really show that the gene associated with thinness in humans makes also flies and mice skinny. And that’s exactly what we found.”

“为了真正证明与人类变瘦有关的基因也能让苍蝇和老鼠变瘦。这正是我们所发现的。”

But the mutant gene doesn’t cause the animals to eat less.

但是突变基因并没有导致动物吃得更少。

“We found that ALK acts in our brains and what it does, it allows our body to burn more calories per same food we eat.”

“我们发现,ALK在我们的大脑中起作用,我们吃同样的食物,它让我们的身体燃烧更多的卡路里,。”

So the brain tells fat cells to burn more of the fat they have socked away.

所以大脑告诉脂肪细胞燃烧更多储存的脂肪。

“People, mice, and we believe also flies, stay skinny. So this mechanism is evolutionarily conserved from insects to humans and we believe opens up an entirely new field of thinness.”

The study is in the journal Cell.

“人类、老鼠,我们相信苍蝇也会保持苗条。因此,从昆虫到人类,这种机制在进化上是守恒的,我们相信,这开辟了一个全新的薄领域。”这项研究发表在《细胞》杂志上。

There are already drugs that inhibit the cancer-causing form of ALK. Which means that ALK is, what scientists call, a druggable target. “So maybe one day we can indeed develop a pill which keeps us thin.”

已经有一些药物可以抑制ALK的致癌形式。这就意味着ALK是科学家们所说的,一个可以用药的目标。“所以也许有一天我们真的可以研发出一种能让我们保持苗条的药物。”

Do you have skinny genes? And I’m not talking about the pants you wore in college but can’t fit into anymore. No, skinny g-e-n-e-s genes are factors found in folks who are naturally svelte. And researchers have just identified one that appears to tell the body’s adipose tissue to burn more fat.

“We all know these people who can eat whatever they want, but never gain any weight.”

Josef Penninger is a geneticist at the University of British Columbia. He says that individuals who are effortlessly trim may hold the key to understanding obesity. See, scientists interested in learning how we control our weight have traditionally focused on the things that make you fat, like diet or metabolism.

“But not really studied why people actually stay skinny. So we thought we’d just turn around the fields and…study genetics of thinness.”Penninger and his colleagues started out by searching a database…maintained by a genome center in Estonia…for its most slender registrants. And they weeded out people who were listed as having anorexia or other conditions that alter body fat. Then they looked for genetic markers that track with these Skinny Petes.

One gene, in particular, caught their eye. ALK…or the gene for anaplastic lymphoma kinase…is a stretch of DNA whose mutant form has been associated with human cancers. “But its normal normal function had never been established.” So the scientists made mutant fruit flies, and mutant mice:

“To really show that the gene associated with thinness in humans makes also flies and mice skinny. And that’s exactly what we found.”

But the mutant gene doesn’t cause the animals to eat less.

“We found that ALK acts in our brains and what it does, it allows our body to burn more calories per same food we eat.”

So the brain tells fat cells to burn more of the fat they have socked away.

“People, mice, and we believe also flies, stay skinny. So this mechanism is evolutionarily conserved from insects to humans and we believe opens up an entirely new field of thinness.”

The study is in the journal Cell.

There are already drugs that inhibit the cancer-causing form of ALK. Which means that ALK is, what scientists call, a druggable target. “So maybe one day we can indeed develop a pill which keeps us thin.”


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