Studies

This Antiobesity Drug Uses Nanoparticles to Specifically Target Fat Cells

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This Antiobesity Drug Uses Nanoparticles to Specifically Target Fat Cells
PHOTOGRAPH: Flickr CC |

Obesity has usurped smoking as the top preventable cancer cause in the United States. To help address this issue, researchers have found a way to use nanoparticles to target fat cells with anti-obesity drugs.

New Method in Delivering Old Drugs

Sometimes, we do not always have to look for brand new treatments but search for another angle on finding a technique that could make old medications more effective with new methods. That is exactly the case for the researchers from MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Drugs that are not yet FDA-approved are used by the scientists for their study on obese mice with their novel method. Remarkably, after 25 days, the mice have lost 10 percent of their body weight while the risk of having diabetes lowered. Moreover, there are no side effects observed on the rodent.

What the drugs do is transform white adipose tissue (with fat-storing cells) into brown ones (with fat-burning cells) which then endorses the mechanism called angiogenesis. This is when blood vessels grew in the fatty tissues that expedite the transformation method.

But what makes the study revolutionary is the technology behind the delivery of the drugs: the nanoparticles. These nanoparticles, particularly the PLGA (widely used in drug delivery) along with the molecule’s other shell called PEG (a polymer tailored to target the protein in blood vessels), works very effectively in launching the anti-obesity drugs in all the right specific places.

With that, the angiogenesis is made more efficient through the increase of targeted blood vessels’ growth. According to Robert Langer, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and a professor at the David H. Koch Institute shares the advantage they have now is “a way of targeting (the drug) to a particular area and not giving the body systematic effects.”

In the meantime, human clinical trials are yet to be conducted. Challenges faced for easily ingesting the molecules are also being tackled as of now, they had to intravenously inject the nanoparticles on specific areas.

Dangerous Risks of Obesity

Staying fit and maintaining the right weight goes beyond vanity reasons. If a person weighs more than the normal range (up to 20 percent) based on one’s height, including other factors like gender, age, and whatnot, then obesity is really considered a health risk. Physically, an obese person is more prone to the following, but not limited to:

  • Breathing problems
  • Some types of cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder diseases like gallstones
  • Gout
  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke

Moreover, psychological and social effects are more susceptible for obese people. Discrimination and a lower quality of life can easily lead to a lower self-esteem and higher risk of anxiety and depression, among others.

Ultimately, the anti-obesity drug would undoubtedly be helpful to the continuing rise of obesity figures. The preventable condition of obesity and overweight has even risen as the fifth leading risk of death globally.

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