- New skin patch that helps the body burn
fat has been developed
- Micro-needles in the patch can deliver drugs that turn
energy-storing fats into energy-burning fats
- Laboratory trials show that the patch
reduced fat mass by over 30 percent over a period of just four weeks
A new approach
developed to reduce abdominal fat has shown promising results in laboratory
trials. The innovative approach is a patch that combines a new way to
deliver drugs via a micro-needle patch with drugs that turn energy-storing
white fat into energy-burning brown fat.
Brown fats are found in babies. It
helps to keep the baby warm by burning energy. As humans grow older, the brown
fats are replaced with visceral white fats.
The patch was
developed by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU
Singapore). The trial showed that the patch reduced more than 30 percent of fat
in mouse models within four weeks.
Skin Patch to Reduce Fat
The skin patch
contains hundreds of micro-needles, which are thinner than a human hair. The
micro-needles are loaded with the drug beta-3 adrenergic receptor agonist or T3
triiodothyronine, which is a thyroid hormone. The patch delivers the drugs when
it is pressed into the skin for two minutes. The patch can be removed when the
micro-needles embedded in the skin detaches from the patch. As the
micro-needles degrade, the drugs slowly diffuse to the energy-storing white fat
underneath the skin layer, turning them into energy-burning brown fats.
‘The skin patch contains hundreds of micro-needles, which deliver drugs that can change the white fat into brown, leading to a significant reduction in fat mass.’
start browning the white fats in five days, which helps increase the energy
expenditure, leading to a reduction in the body fat, said Assistant Professor
Xu Chenjie, who focuses on research in drug delivery systems.
The skin patch
could help address obesity
without resorting to surgeries or oral
medication, which could have serious side effects, said, Professor Chen Peng
and Assistant Professor Xu from NTU.
of drugs we used in the patch is much less than those used in injection or oral
medication. This lowers the drug ingredient costs while our slow-release design
minimises its side effects," said Xu.
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 body
fats to burn more energy, which is a natural process in babies," said Chen, a
biotechnology expert who researches on obesity.
Dr. Aung Than, a
research fellow, conducted experiments of the skin patch on mice. The findings
showed that the patch could suppress weight gain in mice that were fed a
high-fat diet. The patch reduced the fat mass by over 30 percent over a period
of just four weeks.
team found significantly lower levels of blood cholesterol and fatty acids in
mice treated with the skin patch compared to the untreated mice. The findings
of the study are published in the journal Small Methods.
Used in the Skin Patch
The skin patch
contains beta-3 adrenergic receptor agonist and T3 triiodothyronine. A beta-3
adrenergic receptor agonist is a USFDA approved drug to treat overactive
triiodothyronine is a thyroid hormone
used for as a medication to treat an underactive thyroid gland.
studies, both the drugs have shown the ability to turn white fats brown, but
their use in weight loss is hampered by serious side effects and drug
accumulation in the non-targeted tissues when taken orally. But the skin
patch is less likely to have side effects as the drugs are delivered directly
to the site of action.
Cost of the PatchThe skin
patch had a material cost of about US $3.50 or Rupees 238 to make.
The patch contains beta-3 adrenergic receptor agonist combined with
Hyaluronic acid, a substance found naturally in the human body and also
commonly used in skin moisturizers.
Associate Professor at NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, who was not
affiliated with this study, said, "It is exciting to be able to tackle obesity
via the browning of white fat
and the results were promising. These data should
encourage Phase I Clinical studies in humans to translate these basic science
findings to the bedside, with the hope that these microneedle patches may be
developed into an established cost-effective modality for the prevention or
treatment of obesity shortly."
Obesity is a
result of an excessive accumulation of fat, which is a major risk factor for
various diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
According to the World Health Organization, 1.9 billion adults in the world are
overweight with 650 million of them being obese. The skin patch could help
address obesity and also lower the risk of health-related complications.
- Aung Than, Ke Liang, Shaohai Xu, Lei Sun, Hongwei Duan, Fengna Xi, Chenjie Xu, Peng Chen. Transdermal Delivery of Anti-Obesity Compounds to Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue with Polymeric Microneedle Patches. Small Methods, 2017; 1 (11): 1700269 DOI: 10.1002/smtd.201700269