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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard: Fats, Stress, Death: Uncovering the Toxic Effects of Saturated Fatty Acids on Cells

New research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has identified numerous genes that influence how cells respond to saturated fatty acids. Some of these genes have promise as potential therapeutic targets for treating metabolic diseases associated with lipotoxicity, including obesity, diabetes, and heart failure.

The study also provides new insights into how saturated fatty acids trigger cellular stress and showed that saturated fatty acids are less toxic to cells when they are combined with unsaturated fatty acids.

“This study, which analyzes all genes in the human genome, provides a wealth of new information for how saturated fats harm cells. It not only sheds light on the biology but also identifies a number of new targets for possible therapies,” said corresponding author Dr. Robert Farese Jr., chair of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at Harvard Chan School.

The study will be published in the April 4 print edition of Molecular Cell. The findings were reported from the laboratory of Dr. Farese and Dr. Tobias Walther, who study lipid metabolism in a joint laboratory.

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