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Virus May Be Linked to Childhood Obesity

Study Shows Antibodies of Adenovirus 36 Are Present in Blood of Some Obese Kids

Can a Vaccine Prevent Obesity?

Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD, an associate professor and the chief of the infection and obesity lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., is a leader in the field of "infectobesity" (obesity of infectious origin) and has published many studies on AD36.

"This is a nice milestone for the investigation of AD36 and its role in obesity," he tells WebMD.  "We have been studying this in various animal models and have found that when infected, animals gain weight."

"This association has also been seen in adults, and now for the first time, we see that it may be happening in children as well," he says.

If further research solidifies the link between this virus and obesity, it may be possible to develop a vaccine to prevent obesity -- and that would be the Holy Grail, he says. "That is why this line of investigation is really important."

Study Raises Intriguing Questions

"There was an association between having been exposed to the virus and being overweight now," says Scott Kahan, MD, co-director of the George Washington University Weight Management Program in Washington, D.C.

"This study is just a snapshot in time, so we can’t say whether having this virus causes people to gain weight or predisposes them to certain behaviors," he tells WebMD.  "The study raises a lot of questions that are very reasonable to put time and effort into trying to answer."

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