INDIANA, August 30, 2017 - Purdue University scientists have found a way to deliver a drug directly to stored white fat cells to turn them into more easily burned brown fat cells – potentially offering a new way to address obesity. Brown fat is more readily burned by the body, dissipating energy into heat. Scientists, including Purdue’s Meng Deng, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials engineering, and Shihuan Kuang, professor of animal sciences, have been looking for ways to decrease white fat in favor of brown fat through a signaling pathway that is known to regulate cell differentiation and cell identity. Deng and Kuang report in the journal Molecular Therapy that they have for the first time used an engineered polymeric nanoparticle for controlled delivery of a Notch-signaling inhibitor directly to white fat cells. In a mouse model, the nanoparticle, made of an FDA-approved polymer known as PLGA, and containing the drug Dibenzazepine, disrupted Notch signaling and led to the creation of brown fat cells. “We can control the delivery to specific sites in the body, in this case the bad fat or white fat cells,” Deng said. “Once those engineered particles are inside the fat cells, they can slowly release the drug in the cells, potentially limiting the off-target interactions in other tissue in the body and reducing the frequency of dosing.” More than one-third of Americans are obese, and nearly 10 percent have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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