Scientists found a way to tackle obesity by making the “bad” white fat become “good” brown fat. The good fat can burn calories more rapidly than the bad one.
The technology was only tested on human cells and in mice by using a bioreactor to convert the fat cells. But if this technique can work in clinical trials, then it could be the way to treat obesity and diabetes!
Engineering Brown Fat For Transplants
Brian Gillette is the founder of the startup Ardent Cell Technologies and a researcher at NYU Winthrop Hospital. He explains how their method works:
“The general idea of this tissue-based approach is that you can engineer the brown fat outside the body and return it as a transplant.”
This method is a better alternative to pills that control the weight and come with a wide range of side-effects. It’s a better way than having a bariatric surgery which can also be risky and less effective.
The unhealthy fat tissue in the body is found around the waist, hips, and thighs. The small amounts of good fat are found around the neck, shoulders and inside the white fat reserves. Brown fat will generate heat when it burns up excess calories.
According to Gillette, 50-100 grams of brown fat can help a person consume 20% of the daily energy, saying that “it’s one of the most metabolic tissues in the body.”
To naturally convert white fat, it has to be exposed to cold. Drugs can also boost brown fat, but they have many side-effects.
Research Will Carry On
This study bathed human fat cells in chemicals for several weeks inside a bioreactor to convert them into brown fat. Then, the researchers injected the brown fat into mice which were on a high-fat diet. The tissue inside the mice kept its brown fat qualities for eight weeks.
The study didn’t show if the implanted mice lost weight compared to a control group, but the team will need more time to test if the approach will be effective in therapies for weight loss or diabetes. They will also have to find out the right dosage.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere