Tailoring drugs

THERE’S a story Professor Julio Licinio sometimes tells to illustrate the power of personalised medicine. It’s a true one, about three Turkish cousins, all morbidly obese. 

Professor Licinio was working at the University of California in Los Angeles when he heard about a man in Turkey with a genetic mutation that stopped his body from producing leptin, the hormone that signals to the body that it’s full, so it was little wonder that the man was severely obese.

Professor Licinio had already been researching the interaction of leptin between mind and body, and after travelling to Turkey to meet the man and other members of the extended family who shared the mutation, he eventually brought the three relatives to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Along with being chronically obese, the cousins had other endocrine-related health problems.

Every day for 10 months the cousins injected themselves with leptin.