Researchers have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning 'good' fat.
According to the research published in the journal Diabetes, the fat also helped in reducing weight gain and lower blood glucose levels in mice.
The authors said that their technique could eventually lead to new approaches to combat obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
The study used a specifically tailored hydrogel to 'scaffold' and control an implant containing stem cells to form a functional brown-fat-like tissue. While white fat stores, the excess energy, brown fat serves as a heat generator, burning calories as it does its job.
"What is truly exciting about this system is its potential to provide plentiful supplies of the brown fat for therapeutic purposes. The implant is made from the stem cells that reside in white fat, which could be made from tissue obtained through liposuction," said study lead author Kevin Tharp, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology.
Human babies have greater stores of brown fat. It was once believed that brown fat disappears with age, but in recent years, this tissue has been discovered in the neck, shoulders, and spinal cord among adults.
"This is figuratively and literally a hot area of research right now. We are the first to implant in mice an artificial brown-fat depot and show that it has the expected effects on body temperature and beneficial effects on metabolism," said the study's senior author, Andreas Stahl, an associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology.