Researchers Cause Weight Loss in Mice With a Therapeutic Gene By Focusing on Fat Cells

Researchers in South Korea have developed a successful technique for delivering a therapeutic gene to fat cells in the body. This method causes fat cells to function less efficiently which leads to weight loss in the test mice. In their report entitled Nature Materials, the research team explains how they developed this technique, the results and the problems they have yet to solve.

Most of the research that went into finding a drug that will lead to weight loss in obese individuals centered on the idea of appetite reduction. The researchers say that their approach hasn’t been feasible as those that actually work at all cause serious side effects in test subjects. However, the researchers have made a new effort in order to direct their research at the fat cells.

Their research first developed a carrier that would not only carry the gene therapy to the fat cells, but also would bind to them. This allowed the therapy itself the chance to do its work and led to dramatic weight loss. They developed the first by using a short peptide with a gene sequence that targeted the fat cells in the body. Their results were a sequence that not only banded to fat cells, but allows for nuclei, the carrier that helps bind fat cells to proteins.

The researchers then loaded these carriers with RNA which has been shown to silence fatty acid protein 4, which allowed these test mice to be fed a high-fat diet but lose 20% of their body weight. They have a higher tolerance for glucose, an overall increase in their metabolic profile and improved insulin sensitivity.

While the initial results are promising, the researchers have found that the carriers bound to fat cells that are less than desirable (in organs such as the liver and kidney). This could lead to future health problems. More research needs to be done by this team in order to determine whether they can control the delivery system to humans.

Research Looks At Cell Signaling Pathway

Another research team from Purdue University looked at notch signal, where a key biological pathway is tied to both cell and development communication. They found it also plays an important role in the onset of obesity as well as Type II Diabetes. This discovery is important in order to find new targets for treatment.

The research team was led by Shihuan Kuang, an associate professor of animal sciences at the university. His team found that blocking notch signaling in the fat tissue of mice caused these fat cells to transform into a leaner fat. Their research suggests that suppressing this signaling may help reduce the chance of obesity in humans and reduce health problems overall due to extra weight on the body.

Their research is important as it helps researchers understand how fat is controlled at the molecular level. Because the team knows that this signaling is linked to obesity they can now discover new ways to develop therapeutic genes to help solve this issue. The team has been giving obese mice dibenzazepine, a medication that is known to suppress the Notch signaling pathway in the body. This led to increased weight loss and helped to improve the glucose balance in the body.

Ultimately this knowledge helps the team to find new targets in the fight against obesity. By inhibiting the genes in this pathway, we can convert unhealthy fat and help to reverse some of the effects of diabetes in the body by renewing its insulin sensitivity.

This study was published in Nature Medicine.