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Brown Fat Cells Can Be Used In Obesity Treatment

Armen Hareyan's picture

Two newly conducted researches offer an entirely new way for fighting obesity using brown fat cells.

There are two different types of fat cells known so far: white cells that store energy and lead to obesity, and brown cells that burn energy and help lose excess weight. Both research groups had the goal of finding how brown cells can be used to fight obesity. They also looked at ways of turning white fat cells into brown ones turn more fat.

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The first team of researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston discovered that brown cells are derived from muscle-like cells. Researchers found a PRDM16 gene - gene transcription factor - which is able to control the amount of brown cells by switching muscle cells. Then they switched the gene On, which was able to turn immature muscle cells into brown cells. These researchers are now trying to develop a chemical formula of a drug that can switch PRDM16 on.

The second team of researchers from Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston found a protein that could actually boost the number of brown fat cells in lab mice. They found that BMP-7 bone growth protein can boost brown cell growth process and they successfully applied the theory on lab mice.

Concluding the study Yu-Hua Tseng from Joslin's Section on Obesity and Hormone Action said: "Diet and exercise are still the best approaches for weight reduction in the general population. However, for people who are genetically predisposed to obesity, these approaches may have very little effect."

Interestingly, the idea of brown cells being used in Obesity treatment is not new. In 2005 the same Joslin Diabetes Center at Children's Hospital Boston released a research titled 'Brown Fat' Cells Hold Clues for Possible Obesity Treatments." In that study it reads "Because brown fat cells burn calories, the scientists theorized that finding ways to encourage the development of brown fat might be good for treating obesity. In previous research, the scientists were among the first to develop cell lines of precursor cells that give rise to brown fat cells. ''We used those cell lines to study how insulin affects the conversion of fat precursors, or preadipocytes, into mature brown adipocytes,'' said Dr. Tseng."