Researchers have hit upon a new discovery involving fat burning cells that may help treat obesity and prevent type 2 diabetes.
US researchers say they have successfully managed to change white fat cells into brown ones which burn fat more easily.
Brown fat cells burn turn energy into heat, whereas white cells collect and store energy on a long-term basis normally around the stomach, bottom and thighs.
White fat cells are most commonly associated with obesity, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, but converting these cells to brown fat could provide a new method of preventing obesity.
The process involved loading specially engineered nanoparticles with an existing drug called Dibenzazepine and injecting them into fat deposits of mice.
Dibenzazepine is known to disrupt Notch, which is the name given to a specific cell signalling pathway, and blocking the signal prevented white cells from forming, instead changing them into brown fat cells.
Professor of animal sciences Shihuan Kuang from Purdue University said: “The particle was actually picked up by the cell. It’s like it’s being eaten by the cells. This limits the particle from going anywhere else.”
Directing the nanoparticles loaded with the drug into the fat cells has shown to be beneficial so far, but now the researchers want to investigate whether the process can work in other fatty areas around the body.
Meng Deng, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials engineering at the university, added: “We can control the delivery to specific sites in the body, in this case the bad fat or white fat cells.
“Once those engineered particles are inside the fat cells, they can slowly release the drug in the cells, potentially limiting the off-target interactions in other tissue in the body and reducing the frequency of dosing.”
The findings of the trial have been published in the journal Molecular Therapy journal.

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