Scientists in South Australia have announced in the EMBO Reports journal that they may have found a single gene which can be blocked to promote weight loss without the need for diets or gym time.

The team removed a gene called RCAN1 from mice before feeding them a diet high in fat. The mice did not increase in weight, even after eating as much food as they wanted over a long period of time.

Blocking the RCAN1 gene helps the body transform unhealthy white fat into calorie burning brown fat, and causing muscles to burn more calories at rest. To confirm these results, the researchers tested a number of different diets across timelines between eight weeks and six months long. Health improvements were reported in the animals in all those scenarios.

The team have developed drugs targeting the protein created by the RCAN1. The next stage of their research is to see how well they inhibit the gene an whether it can be translated into an effective medicine for consumption.