Health & Wellbeing

Researchers discover how to fight fat ... with fat

Specially-treated fat cells may one day lead to weight loss
Specially-treated fat cells may one day lead to weight loss
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Specially-treated fat cells may one day lead to weight loss
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Specially-treated fat cells may one day lead to weight loss
Fat cells stained for easier viewing
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Fat cells stained for easier viewing
Fat cells stained with fluorescent dye
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Fat cells stained with fluorescent dye
Specially-treated fat cells may one day lead to weight loss
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Specially-treated fat cells may one day lead to weight loss

Though it's long been known that there are two forms of fat or adipose tissue, white, which stores calories, and brown, which burns them for energy and warmth, figuring out how to safely create more of the desirable brown type has remained elusive. In an ideal world, there'd simply be a switch one could flip to convert white fat into brown and obesity would eventually become a thing of the past. Now, UC San Francisco (UCSF) Diabetes Center brown fat researcher Shingo Kajimura and his team have made a discovery that leads them to believe they've found that switch and one day, it just may lead to the long-sought solution for human obesity.

"It used to be thought that brown fat only exists in small animals, and only in infants in humans," Kajimura said. "Now we know that most adult humans have a significant amount of brown fat. A few years ago, we discovered a protein called PRDM16," he added. "This protein is considered to be a master regulator of brown fat development. The brown fat cells need this protein."

In their recent study, the UCSF team reports the discovery that a class of commonly prescribed Type-2 diabetes drugs, called TZDs (thiazolidinediones, such as Actos and Avandia), promoted the conversion of white fat cells into brown (in mice and culture dishes) by stabilizing the PRDM16 protein. Apparently, as more stabilized PRDM16 accumulates in white fat cells, it eventually reaches a concentration high enough to flip the gene-controlled switch that begins the desired conversion to brown fat. Unfortunately, TZDs can cause some serious problems on their own.

"A major concern with TZD drugs is that there are multiple side-effects including fluid retention and a risk of heart failure," Kajimura explained. "If we can design drugs that specifically stabilize PRDM16 protein, this can convert white blood cells into brown fat with fewer side-effects. While new drugs that target this protein may be years away, knowing the target may speed their development."

In the meantime, if you're prone to putting on the pounds, calorie deprivation and the treadmill may be the safest options for weight loss, at least until we learn how to safely throw that switch.

In the video below, Shingo Kajimura explains more about his team's discovery:

Source: UC San Francisco

In Obesity Fight, as Diets Fail Drug Search Turns to Brown Fat for Weight Loss

3 comments
MBee
Kajimura explained. "If we can design drugs that specifically stabilize PRDM16 protein, this can convert white blood cells into brown fat with fewer side-effects. The above is from paragraph 4. I'm wondering if Mr. Kajimura intended to "convert white blood cells into brown fat cells" or if the intent was for "white fat cells into brown fat"? Interesting article. Should obviate the need for statin drugs and all their various, liver-effecting side effects.
waltinseattle
Interesting developement, but not as interesting as the imbeded concept of "flip (ing) the gene controlled switch" and all the possibilities there. What other proteins might "switch" the organism's set states...all without genetic modifications? Protein synthesis regulators replacing steroids in the body building/sports world? Mitochondrial replication regulators? Opiate receptors? Digestive enzymes? / ?
AGO
We figured all this out years ago! Fat gain and loss is a hormonal process. By and large the process of fat accumulation begins with the release of insulin. While insulin is present in the blood, all fat loss is halted to focus the bodies attempt to rid itself of excess carbohydrates. As soon as blood sugars are reduced (either by being used or stored as fat) then insulin subsides in the blood and the absence of insulin allows for the release and use of lipids (fat) for energy. This is why low carb diets have always been so successful. This is a huge dilemma for the medical establishment though because they have mistakenly and ademately declared that fat is bad and a diet high in carbs (that provoke the release of insulin) is good! If you are overweight or suffer from any metabolic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer). A high fat low carb diet will have enormous benefits. I speak from experience. Those who dare to do the diet are always amazed at the results. Those who don't say it is dangerous and stupid. Do your own homework. Research ketogenic diets....