Researchers have come up with a skin patch that can melt fat and boost the body’s metabolism. It uses a technology that turns white fat into brown fat which is capable of burning energy. The patch proved to be successful in mice. However, it is not yet available for humans.
This new centimeter-square device uses nanotechnology to dissolve the awful and unwanted love handles located at the sides of the waistline. Researchers say that currently the patch is not compatible with humans, but they’ll keep investigating to adapt it. They hope it can be used one day to treat metabolic disorders such as obesity.
“Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles,” said study co-author Li Qiang, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “What’s much more important is that our patch may provide a safe and effective means of treating obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes.”
What to know about ‘browning.’
White fat stores as an excess of energy, accumulating all over the body and giving way to those unappealing love handles. On the other hand, brown fat burns fat to produce heat. Brown fat is more common in newborns, but as time goes by the ratio of these fats changes. Therefore, for a long time, specialists and researchers have tried to find the way to turn white fat into brown fat to fight fat accumulation and metabolic disorders. This process is called “browning.”
Currently, some pills and drugs promote browning, but they have important side effects such as bone fractures, weight gain, and stomach upset.
This new skin patch appears to have mastered the process of browning. The patch contains dozens of microscopic needles that contain the drugs which are painlessly and directly delivered to the fat tissues, reducing those complications and side effects drastically.
Humans cannot use this skin patch yet
This patch seems to be the promise to fight fat deposits in our organisms. However, the nanotechnology it uses has not been developed for human beings. It has only been tested with mice.
The researchers used it on 20 obese mice. The treated sides showed 20 percent fat reduction compared with the untreated side. The mice also showed lower fasting blood glucose levels compared with mice who didn’t get the treatment. In lean mice, the drug-containing patches also boosted the oxygen consumption by about 20 percent. According to researchers, the treated side of mice showed more genes associated with brown fat if compared to the untreated sides, which leads to thinking that the patches accelerate the process of browning.
“This microneedle-based patch can effectively deliver browning agents to the subcutaneous adipocytes in a sustained manner and switch on the “browning” at the targeted region. It is demonstrated that this patch reduces treated fat pad size, increases whole body energy expenditure, and improves type-2 diabetes in vivo in a diet-induced obesity mouse model,” said Li Qiang, from Columbia University Medical Center.
The study was published in ACS Nano on Sept. 15.