People with obesity will be able to treat the condition with engineered particles of purified sand, new research shows.
A study conducted by the University of South Australia has found that engineered porous silica particles made from purified sand stops fats and carbohydrates from staying in the body.
Digestive enzymes, fats and sugars within the gastrointestinal tract are absorbed from the optimally designed silica particles, the research has revealed.
According to the scientists, the new sand-based treatment has fewer bad side effects compared to Orlistat – a common anti-obesity drug.
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Senior author Dr Paul Joyce said: “Obesity is a global issue that affects more than 1.9 billion people worldwide.
“Despite this, there is a current lack of effective therapies that are free from adverse effects – such as diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain – which often deters people from starting a treatment.”
He added: “Porous silica has received increasing attention for its anti-obesity potential, with human trials showing it is a safe therapy. However, exactly how it works has eluded researchers – until now.
“Our research shows how porous silica promotes an anti-obesity effect by functioning locally in the gut to restrict fat and carbohydrate digestion and absorption.”
He evaluated: “Importantly, the gentle mechanism is expected to deliver clinically effective outcomes for weight loss, without adverse effects.”
People with obesity are at risk of developing other conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
During the study, the team of academics analysed several silica samples under different conditions during the breakdown period of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal.
They discovered that an inhibitory response to both fats and sugars occurred when the pore widths of porous silica particles were between 6-10 nanoparticles (nm).
Dr Joyce said: “This research has identified defined parameters for porous silica to enact anti-obesity effects.
“Obesity is a completely preventable disease. This is a massive step to tackle one of the world’s most present health conditions.”