Scientists believe they have finally found a cure for obesity by developing a new way to deliver drugs that are known to turn energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat.
The new approach of delivering drugs is through a micro-needle patch, where each needle is thinner than human hair.
This unique way was tested out on mice by the scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, who developed the approach. The results showed a reduction in weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet and their fat mass dropped more than 30 percent over four weeks.
It was noted that the treated mice also had significantly lower blood cholesterol and fatty acid levels as compared to that of the untreated mice.
"Brown fats are found in babies and they help keep the baby warm by burning energy. As humans grow older, the amount of brown fats lessens and is replaced with visceral white fats," Nanyang Technological University scientists explained.
According to the study, it's a "painless and bloodless drug delivery" as the micro-needles dissolve and releases the drug slowly. It does not have to be administered daily; in fact, it is something that potentially can be done at home.
NTU Professor Chen Peng and Assistant Professor Xu Chenjie believe this approach could help address the obesity problem all over the world without any surgical operations or oral medication.
"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 of the mice, leading to a reduction in body fat gain," said Xu.
"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," he added.
The study was published in the journal Small Methods.