12 January - 20 June 2016

Transgenic mice could help us study the effects of omega-6 and omega-3

04 June 14

Dietary omega-3 and omega-6 are both essential for human health. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for the heart whereas omega-6 fatty acids are important for brain function, and both are necessary for normal growth and development. The ideal ratios of each which should be consumed for maximal benefit is an interesting question, and an active area of research, especially given the growing prevalence of omega-6 in the western diet (in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds), and the lesser consumption of omega-3 rich foodstuffs such as green vegetables and some types of fish.

Recent research from Massachusetts General Hospital has provided a new means of investigating this question. The researchers bred mice incorporating specific genes from a roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans which were able to synthesise both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids within their bodies given a diet of carbohydrates or saturated fats - this is something humans cannot do, which is why they are necessary in our diet. The successful breeding of these Omega mice strains means that future research can more closely study the effects of these molecules on health, and perhaps do even more. Senior author Jing X. Kang stated: "Introducing into mammals the capacity to convert non-essential nutrients into essential fats could lead to new, sustainable and cost-effective resources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids." [Eurekalert]

More on omega-3, omega-6 and fatty acid profiling...

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