The most straightforward mechanism for a small molecule therapeutic agent is to inactivate the product of a single gene. However for diseases with a complex genetic basis it may be difficult to identify a single "slam dunk" target. Thus the identification and cloning of the mahogany gene by researchers at Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Stanford University and colleagues may provide MLNM with a new target to prevent or treat obesity, but for the moment it mostly raises new questions about the complexity of the condition.

Karen Moore, director of genetic systems at MLNM (Cambridge, Mass.) and author of the Nature paper, noted that mahogany has two advantages over