Save money on overpriced gym memberships. Scientists in Singapore have produced a revolutionary “skin patch” that costs just £2.60 to make. It deliveres hundreds of tiny weight loss drugs straight to white fat skin layer. Drugs turns ‘bad’ white fat into energy-burning brown fat over four weeks. The breakthrough raises hopes of a treatment that could help people lose weight without exercising or resorting to gastric surgery.
So far it has been tested only on mice, but the researchers in Singapore say they have interest from biotechnology companies, which could soon lead to human trials. Xu Chenjie, an assistant professor from Nanyang Technological University, said: ‘With the embedded microneedles in the skin of the mice, the surrounding fats started browning in five days, which helped to increase the energy expenditure, leading to a reduction in body fat gain.
‘The amount of drugs we used in the patch is much less than those used in oral medication or an injected dose. This lowers the drug ingredient costs while our slow-release design minimises its side effects.’
The skin patch is designed to transform white into brown fat using micro-needles loaded with the drug Beta-3 adrenergic receptor agonist, or a drug called thyroid hormone T3 triiodothyronine. When the patch is pressed into the skin for about two minutes, these micro-needles become embedded and it can then be removed.
Co-author Professor Chen Peng said: ‘What we aim to develop is a painless patch that everyone could use easily, is unobtrusive and yet affordable.
‘Most importantly, our solution aims to use a person’s own body fats to burn more energy, which is a natural process in babies.’
The patch reduced weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet and cut their fat mass by more than 30 per cent over four weeks.
Those given the drug had significantly lower blood cholesterol than untreated mice. Beta-3 adrenergic receptor agonist is a drug used to treat overactive bladders, while T3 triiodothyronine is a thyroid hormone commonly used for an under-active thyroid gland.Both have been shown in other studies to turn white fats brown, but their use was hampered by potentially serious side effects and accumulation in non-targeted tissues if swallowed as a pill or taken conventionally.
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