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Calorie-Burning Fat

May 11, 2016

Bioengineers design nanoparticles that convert white fat storage cells to brown, calorie-burning ones.



Fat that causes weight loss. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most of the fat in our bodies is white fat, which stores energy. But we also have a small amount of brown fat, which actually burns calories. There are compounds that can convert white fat cells to brown ones, but they work only if you can get them into the cells. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT biomedical engineer Robert Langer reports using nanoparticles to deliver the drugs effectively in obese mice.

ROBERT LANGER (Massachusetts Institute of Technology):

You can actually direct a lot of the drug right to where you want it, and they are small enough that they can be taken up by cells, and that stimulates blood vessel growth. And that actually has this effect.


The results were promising, with a substantial number of white fat cells converting to brown, but the treatment has many hurdles to clear before approval for use in humans. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.