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Science File | IN BRIEF

Cholesterol Links to Metabolism Studied

December 20, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Cholesterol is thought to be crucial to normal metabolism, but a team at Quark Biotech Inc. of Fremont has produced apparently healthy mice that are cholesterol-free. The team reported in the current issue of Science that it removed a gene that carries out the final step in the natural production of cholesterol. The mice, however, are smaller than normal and show poorer growth characteristics.

The study supports a theory called "sterol synergism," which speculates that some sterols in the body can take the place of others in metabolic processes, thereby enabling the animals to survive.

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