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A nanoparticle-coated skin patch could treat obesity and diabetes

From Engadget - September 15, 2017

The patch consists of an array of microscopic needles that help deliver drugs enclosed in nanoparticles directly into fat lying beneath the skin. Those drugs help turn white fat, which stores energy, into brown fat, which burns energy. Humans have both types, but as we age, we lose more and more of our brown fat, leaving mostly white fat behind. Therefore, it's harder to get rid of the fat we have once we store it. Turning white fat into brown -- a process called browning -- has been a concept explored by researchers looking to treat obesity and diabetes, but earlier efforts have been largely done with pills or injections, which can cause a number of side effects since they deliver the drugs to the entire body.

This patch, however, can concentrate the drug to just the area with the fat. And when they tested it on obese rats, putting a patch with drug on one side and a patch without drug on the other, researchers found that the drug side showed around 30 percent reductions of a particular type of white fat. Additionally, genes associated with brown fat were upregulated in the treated side, meaning the changes appeared to be due to a browning of the white fat stores. The patches even had an effect in healthy mice, leading to increased metabolic activity and upregulated brown fat genes.

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