By Alex Matthews
Doctors have revealed the world’s fattest woman put on so much weight because of a unique genetic defect which makes her constantly hungry.
Eman Ahmed, who had ballooned to 78st, is believed to be the only person on earth with the variant in one of her genes and there is no known cure.
She had successful gastric sleeve surgery earlier this month, which reduced her stomach to less than 15 per cent of its original size.
Eman now weighs just over 53st and is still being treated in hospital.
The defect was revealed in a study of 91 genes associated with obesity by Core Diagnostics in the USA.
Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, of the Saifee Hospital in Mumbai, said: “There is a hormone called leptin which comes from fat tissue and tells the brain when fat stores are being depleted.
“In this unfortunate person, the docking station in the brain that leptin plugs into seems to be very defective so leptin doesn’t send its signal. Because of this, from early in her life, this patient’s brain has perceived that she is constantly starving.
“That has led her to constantly seek food, store it avidly in her body as fat and conserve energy.
“Unfortunately, there is currently no specific treatment for this condition.
“The operation that she has had may have some beneficial effects but does not deal with the underlying problem.
“New drugs are being developed which may be able, at least partially, to ‘bypass’ the signalling block in the brain and may have some promise in this situation. But it is very early days for these drugs.
“If she has access to these drugs and they are effective then we have a solution for her obesity. If not, then she may need a more radical surgery which causes malabsorption a little later in life.”
The study showed that Eman has a variant in the LEPR gene, which affects the leptin receptor, a protein involved in the regulation of body weight.
The leptin receptor protein is found on the surface of cells of many organs and tissues, including a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus controls hunger and thrust, as well as other functions such as sleep, mood, and body temperature.
Eman’s genetic mutation prevents receptor protein getting to the cells’ surface, and limits the cells’ signalling function.
Doctors say Eman is the only person in the world to have this gene defect causing obesity.
Eman was flown from her home in Alexandria, Egypt to a hospital in Mumbai, India, in a military cargo plane to undergo emergency treatment.
She has since undergone a gastric sleeve operation and been put on a strict, liquid only diet to help her lose almost 25st.
Her extreme weight has caused her a myriad of other health problems, including obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, severe core pulmonale and gout.
She also suffered a stroke three years ago, which impaired her speech, her ability to swallow and weakened the right side of her body.