October 8, 2012
Animal Cell Injections Could Help People Burn Fat
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Dieters, rejoice! Researchers have reportedly developed a method that will allow people to drop excess weight, lose their double chins, and trim their waistlines by essentially burning off fat from within.
The secret, according to Telegraph Science Correspondent Richard Gray, is the injection of miniature capsules containing heat-producing cells into specific locations on a person's body. The cells essentially let off signals which alter fat tissues so that they consume excess calories to produce body heat rather than storing them as adipose tissue.
"Tests in animals have shown that injecting the capsules caused obese mice to lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight even when being fed a high calorie diet," Gray reported on Sunday. "The researchers are now planning to begin treating obese dogs later this year. If successful and found to be safe, it is hoped that the treatment could be available for use in humans in around six years."
"The researchers believe the capsules, which are around three times the width of a human hair, could be injected into specific fat deposits such as the thighs, buttocks, arms or under the chin to reduce the amount of fat stored there," he added. "It could solve the problem faced by many dieters who find that no matter how much weight they lose or how much they exercise, there are some areas of the body where fat stubbornly refuses to come off."
The research was conducted at the Ohio State University Department of Human Nutrition, and lead researcher Dr. Ouliana Ziouzenkova told Gray that they began their work with the intention of targeting the visceral fat that has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. However, she did note that it could also be used to improve one's physical appearance as well.
“We have to prove that this is safe and effective in humans, but we could think about using it for body sculpturing," Ziouzenkova said. "So if you wanted to remove a small amount of fat under your face like a double chin, or in their arms or legs, you could target these with a single injection“¦ We have a grant now to carry out some work with obese dogs as it could also be of great benefit for veterinary purposes as there is a growing problem with obese pets."
As part of their research, which was published in the journal Biomaterials, the research team took "fatlike cells from mice that had been genetically modified to burn off excess energy as body temperature," and found that by placing them inside "plastic-like microcapsules," they could implant them in another creature's body without them being targeted by the recipient's immune system, Gray said.
Mice that received the capsules had a 10% reduction in body fat within one month's time, and a 20% reduction in 80 days' time, according to the Telegraph. This was accomplished by the capsules letting off signals known as thermogenic factors through their pores. Those signals are then absorbed into the surrounding fat tissue, which is then changed into a type of heat producing cells known as thermocytes.
Dr. Ziouzenkova said that her team hopes to be able to transplant the cells directly from animals into humans (a process known as xenotransplantation). If that turns out to be impossible, however, she says that they will attempt to reprogram human cells in order to produce a similar effect.