Possible Virus X....?
Indeed, some research suggests that both viruses and bacteria could play a role in weight control:
- A recent study in Nature (there's also a related news story in JAMA) found that the balance of two divisions of beneficial gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, seems to be important in determining an individual's propensity for obesity.
- Nikhil Dhurandhar, a researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, and Richard Atkinson, a pathologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, are studying the link between human adenovirus AD-36 and obesity (they co-founded the obesity research company Obetech). Dhurandar found that AD-36 causes obesity in chickens and rats, and that some obese people also carry this virus. (He coined the term "infectobesity.")
- Another study (co-authored by Atkinson) has found that AD-37, an adenovirus closely related to AD-36, also causes weight gain in chickens.