Skin Patches Melt Fat

Researchers have devised a medicated skin patch that can turn energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat locally while raising the body’s overall metabolism. The patch could be used to burn off pockets of unwanted fat such as “love handles” and treat metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the University of North Carolina. Humans have two types of fat. White fat stores excess energy in large triglyceride droplets. Brown fat has smaller droplets and a high number of mitochondria that burn fat to produce heat. Newborns have a relative abundance of brown fat, which protects against exposure to cold temperatures. But by adulthood, most brown fat is lost.

For years, researchers have been searching for therapies that can transform an adult’s white fat into brown fat—a process named browning—which can happen naturally when the body is exposed to cold temperatures—as a treatment for obesity and diabetes.

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There are several clinically available drugs that promote browning, but all must be given as pills or injections,” said study co-leader Li Qiang, PhD, assistant professor of pathology & cell biology at Columbia. “This exposes the whole body to the drugs, which can lead to side effects such as stomach upset, weight gain, and bone fractures. Our skin patch appears to alleviate these complications by delivering most drugs directly to fat tissue.

To apply the treatment, the drugs are first encased in nanoparticles, each roughly 250 nanometers (nm) in diameter—too small to be seen by the naked eye. (In comparison, a human hair is about 100,000 nm wide.) The nanoparticles are then loaded into a centimeter-square skin patch containing dozens of microscopic needles. When applied to skin, the needles painlessly pierce the skin and gradually release the drug from nanoparticles into underlying tissue.

The findings, from experiments in mice, were published online today in ACS Nano.

Source: http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/

Obesity: How To Burn Fat

Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed nanoparticles that can deliver antiobesity drugs directly to fat tissue. Overweight mice treated with these nanoparticles lost 10 percent of their body weight over 25 days, without showing any negative side effects. The drugs work by transforming white adipose tissue, which is made of fat-storing cells, into brown adipose tissue, which burns fat. The drugs also stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in fat tissue, which positively reinforces the nanoparticle targeting and aids in the white-to-brown transformation. These drugs, which are not FDA-approved to treat obesity, are not new, but the research team developed a new way to deliver them so that they accumulate in fatty tissues, helping to avoid unwanted side effects in other parts of the body.

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The advantage here is now you have a way of targeting it to a particular area and not giving the body systemic effects. You can get the positive effects that you’d want in terms of antiobesity but not the negative ones that sometimes occur,” says Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

More than one-third of Americans are considered to be obese, and last year obesity overtook smoking as the top preventable cause of cancer death in the United States, with 20 percent of the 600,000 cancer deaths attributed to obesity.

Langer and Omid Farokhzad, director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, are the senior authors of the study, which appears in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of May 2. The paper’s lead authors are former MIT postdoc Yuan Xue and former BWH postdoc Xiaoyang Xu.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/

Molecular Switch Burning Fat 3 Times Faster

Enzymes involved in breaking down fat can now be manipulated to work three times harder by turning on a molecular switch recently observed by chemists at the University of Copenhagen – Denmark. Being able to control this chemical on/off button could have massive implications for curing diseases related to obesity including diabetes, cardio vascular disease, stroke and even skin problems like acne. But the implications may be wider. The results suggest that the switch may be a common characteristic of many more enzymes. Since enzymes are miniscule worker-molecules that control a vast variety of functions in cells, if the switches are standard, it may well be one of the most important discoveries in enzymology.

“If many enzymes turn out to be switched on in the same way as the ones we’ve studied, this opens a door to understanding- and maybe curing, a wide range of diseases”, says professor Dimitrios Stamou who heads a multidisciplinary team of scientists at the Nanoscience Center and Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen

Source: http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2012/2012.8/fatdegrading_enzymes/

New Drug Will Fight Both Obesity and Diabet

Arrowhead Research Corporation, a targeted therapeutics company, today announced the publication of data demonstrating that its anti-obesity drug candidate, Adipotide, induces rapid metabolic changes with implications for Type II diabetes. An independent laboratory reported that obese mice treated with Adipotide displayed significantly improved insulin sensitivity, improved glucose tolerance, and a reduction in serum triglycerides after only 2-3 days of treatment. These effects occurred independent of and prior to Adipotide-induced weight loss. 

"A large amount of data generated over the past eight years across multiple laboratories have suggested that Adipotide is a unique and potentially powerful agent against the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Christopher Anzalone, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arrowhead. "This new study suggests that it may also be a powerful agent against obesity's sister epidemic, Type II diabetes."

The findings, published online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Diabetes Association, are presented in a paper titled "Rapid and weight-independent improvement of glucose tolerance induced by a peptide designed to elicit apoptosis in adipose tissue endothelium." The research team is led by Director of the Cincinnati Diabetes and Obesity Center, Dr. Randy Seeley.

Source: http://www.arrowres.com/publications/2012/june26_2012.html