Gene Therapy to Eliminate Obesity

A one-time therapy that achieves life time results, corrects genetic obesity, and is independent of diet and exercise.

The Need

Obesity and the related condition, syndrome X (or metabolic syndrome) represent two of the most significant causes of morbidity in the western world and their incidences are growing rapidly. Lifestyle and non-pharmacologic approaches have limited efficacy, particularly in the morbidly obese. One solution gaining traction in the market is bariatric surgery, however, it carries its own risks and is often not a long-term solution. An alternative approach to pharmacological and surgical solutions is gene therapy.

The Technology

The researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Mathew J. During, developed a one-time gene therapy to eliminate obesity. The therapy is a nanoparticle, consisting of an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector expressing brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which regulates chemical changes in the brain responsible for fat composition, appetite, and weight control. The nanoparticle is delivered directly to the hypothalamus, eliminating the risk of replication, spread, or immune reaction. Unlike the current pharmacological obesity treatments, this is not expected to exhibit any renal, hepatic, or cardiac toxicity. As an alternative to bariatric surgery, this treatment would avoid the effects of the surgical procedure and would eliminate the need for patients to adhere to strict dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes. This therapy is more likely to have a much improved risk/benefit compared to both bariatric and neurological (DBS) surgery for obesity than other surgical therapies. This technology is in the pilot/pre-clinical studies phase.

Commercial Applications

  • Biological therapy
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Obesity


  • Minimally invasive, fast out-patient procedure
  • One-time therapy that achieves life time results
  • Corrects genetic obesity resulting from increased appetite and/or slow metabolism
  • Not dependent on diet and exercise
  • Indications include super obesity and bariatric surgery failures and contraindications

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