Turning white fat into brown
Scientists have learned how to inject a cure for obesity directly into fat cells
Anna Kerman, XX2 century, based on Medical Xpress: Nanoparticle-drug combo turns white fat to brown fat with potential to treat obesity, diabetes
Purdue University scientists have made a discovery that could be a breakthrough in the treatment of obesity and diabetes: they have found a way to deliver the drug directly to white fat cells to turn them into brown fat, which is much easier to burn.
White adipose tissue performs the functions of a long-term energy storage in the body, and it is this that is associated with obesity. It was necessary for people in the process of evolution as a heat insulator and a way to store energy. But nowadays we eat more and spend less, so the energy stored in white adipose tissue is consumed much more slowly, which leads to obesity and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans are obese and about 10% have type 2 diabetes.
The body primarily burns brown fat, turning it into heat. A group of scientists, which included associate professor of medical bioengineering Meng Deng and professor of zoobiology Shihuan Kuang, was looking for a way to reduce the amount of white adipose tissue and increase the amount of brown by using a signaling pathway that regulates cell differentiation. In this process, the cell sends a signal to the neighboring cell, controlling the transcription of its genes and its identification. If the signal is blocked, then the cell that was supposed to become one of the unwanted white fat cells turns into a brown cell.
In the journal Molecular Therapy, Deng and Kuan reported that they were the first to use polymer nanoparticles to deliver a signaling pathway inhibitor directly to white fat cells. In an experiment on mice, nanoparticles created from a polymer called PLGA and containing the drug dibenzazepine interrupted the Notch signaling pathway, which led to the appearance of brown fat cells.
"We can deliver the drug directly to the right points of the body, in a particular case – to the cells of white fat," says Dan. – As soon as the particles are in the cell, they begin to gradually release the drug. This method of administration of the drug limits its interaction with other tissues and cells, which makes it possible to administer the drug less often."
Kuan reported that during endocytosis, fat cells readily absorb particles whose size is less than 200 nm, and the particles quickly enter the cytosol inside the cell membrane.
"The cell takes the particles. You could say she eats them," Quan said. "So the particles end up where they need to be."
Since the nanoparticles containing the drug are injected directly into fat cells, Dan said that it is likely to develop treatment methods that will remove fat from specific areas of the body. In an experiment on mice, weekly injection of nanoparticles into certain areas of the body significantly improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Being overweight contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes. Removing excess fat will reduce the risk of developing this disease.
Dan applied for a patent and created a startup Adipo Therapeutics LLC to develop and further market this technology.
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