Humans have two types of fat – white fat that stores excess energy in large so-called “triglyceride droplets” and brown fat, made of smaller droplets and a higher number of mitochondria that burn fat to produce heat.
It works by converting white fat to brown fat, which burns energy.
Researchers have detailed a new potential treatment option for diabetes and obesity, one that requires wearing a patch containing ‘microneedles.’ These micro-needles are exactly they sound like – very small needles that pierce the skin to deliver medication to the patient.
Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center in NY trialed the gadget on mice and discovered they lost 20 for each penny of fat on the treated side contrasted with the untreated side.
To test the patch, researchers loaded them with two different drugs and applied them to obese mice (the concept of an obese mouse is amusing in and of itself), but only on one side.
Researchers for years have sought to find a viable way to convert white fat to brown fat, a process called browning.
“There are several clinically available drugs that promote browning, but all must be given as pills or injections”, said study co-leader Li Qiang, an assistant professor of pathology and cell biology. “Our skin patch appears to alleviate these complications by delivering most drugs directly to fat tissue”, Qiang explained in a university news release.
The patch conveys digestion changing medications encased in nanoparticles which enter the body by means of many infinitesimal needles.
‘The nanoparticles were created to effectively hold the drug and then gradually collapse, releasing it into nearby tissue in a sustained way instead of spreading the drug throughout the body quickly, ‘ said patch designer and study co-leader Dr Zhen Gu, associate professor of joint biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During trials, patches containing two compounds – either rosiglitazone (Avandia) or beta-adrenergic receptor agonist (CL 316243) – were stuck to obese mice. These patches were replaced with new ones once every three days, for a total of four weeks. Control mice were also given two empty patches. While diet and exercise aren’t able to “spot treat” fat – that is, eliminate it from just one part of the body – this micro-needle patch can.
Mice treated with the patch experienced 20-percent localized fat loss and lower glucose levels. Additionally, when regular lean mice were treated, their metabolic activity increased by 20 percent. Genetic analyses suggested there was more brown fat on the treated side. Even better and more importantly, the patch could serve as a future treatment for metabolic conditions or diabetes.