A Reengineered Fat Cells May Help Lose Weight

A new study revealed that ordinary fat cells can help burn calories when reengineered. The study administered drugs to mice to see how a common drug given to diabetic people works
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) discovered during the study that PRDM16 protein, which can be found in both humans and mice, can convert ordinary calorie-storing white fat cells into calorie-burning brown fat cells.

The result of study makes researchers think that PRDM 16 is a potential drug for obese people who want to lose weight. Additional compounds that complement the action of this protein may help people lose weight faster by burning calories faster.

A follow-up study is scheduled to determine the safeness and effectiveness of such compounds. If proven safe and effective, these compounds would represent a whole new approach to weight loss. Diet drugs that are available in the market today function by restricting the intake of calories or by lessening appetite.

Study leader Shingo Kajimura said that the solution for obesity is energy expenditure.

Scientists believe that early mammals have brown fat to survive against cold as it helps them maintain body temperature. Not all animals have it. Cold blooded animals such as lizards maintain their body temperature by external means through sunbathing during the day and going in protective areas during the night. This explains why lizards are many in tropical climates than cold climates.

On the other hand, warm-blooded mammals are endothermic because they produce heat in many ways such as by sweating, shivering and regulating the size of their blood vessels. Brown fat also helps by burning fatty acids, which allows the blood to keep warm thus, also the body.

Human body is capable to create new brown fat cells anytime in life.

Doctors already know that brown fat is essential to lose weight, the more amount of brown fat, the more chances to lose weight.

Scientists found out before that PPAR-gamma ligands increase brown fat, giving interest to researchers to conduct studies on how to exploit brown fat for weight loss. However, they did not know the reason why it happened.

Kajimura and colleagues from UCSF have discovered how it happened. They found in their research that PPAR-gamma interacts with the PRDM16 protein, making it more stable and causing to its build up within cells. They used mice in their study.

Kajimura said that it is not certain whether this could also be possible to humans or not. New drugs that target this protein may develop many years from now but knowing the target may make the development faster.

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