Obesity results from excess white fat storage, making it difficult to treat because the effectiveness of diet, exercise, and systemic anti-obesity agents is limited, and in the latter case may cause serious side effects. As a result, researchers are investigating innovative strategies for localized delivery of fat burning compounds via transdermal patches. Medgadget recently reported on a novel microneedle patch, which contains a nanoparticle-encapsulated drug that converts white fat into brown fat. Whereas stored white fat acts as a long-term energy reserve, brown adipose tissue burns easily. Unlike adults, infants have abundant reserves of brown fat, which they burn for energy to produce body heat.
Another more recent study, based on the same concept, describes the use of a transdermal microneedle patch to deliver a “fat-browning” drug (Beta-3 adrenergic receptor agonist or thyroid hormone T3 triiodothyronine) locally via detachable, dissolvable polymer microneedles. The device, created by researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, is activated by pressing the patch to the skin for a couple of minutes, which causes the microneedles to embed themselves painlessly into the skin and detach from the patch. As the microneedles degrade, the drug is released into surrounding subcutaneous white fat, resulting in localized conversion of white adipose tissue into energy-burning brown fat.
This was tried in a diet-induced obese mouse model. Treated mice showed less weight gain, a 30% reduction in fat mass over a four-week time span, and a reduction in blood cholesterol and fatty acid levels.
This study corroborates previous research and provides promising proof-of-principle that the conversion of white energy-storing fat into brown energy-producing fat using degradable microneedle drug delivery patches is an effective localized strategy for addressing excessive white fat storage.
Study in journal Small Methods: Transdermal Delivery of Anti-Obesity Compounds to Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue with Polymeric Microneedle Patches…