Reengineering ordinary fat cells to burn calories may help to lose weight, researchers suggest. While investigating how a common drug given to people with diabetes works in mice, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) discovered that a protein called PRDM16, found in both men and mice, can throw a switch on fat cells, converting them from ordinary calorie-storing white fat cells into calorie-burning brown fat cells. This discovery makes PRDM16 a possible target for future obesity drugs. Compounds that promote the action of this protein may help people burn calories faster. Though they would have to prove safe and effective in the clinic, such compounds would represent a completely different approach to weight loss. Existing diet drugs aim to restrict the intake of calories - by blocking the absorption of fat in the gut, for instance, or by decreasing appetite. "If you think about the energy balance, the other way to tackle obesity is through energy expenditure," Shingo Kajimura, the study leader, said. Scientists believe that brown fat originally evolved in early mammals as a defense against the cold. It helps them maintain their body temperature and thrive in the face of challenging environmental extremes. Not all animals share this ability. Many animals, like lizards, are "cold blooded" or exothermic. They maintain their body temperature through completely external means, sunbathing at certain times of the day and huddling in warm, protective places at night. This naturally limits their range and explains why lizards, so abundant in tropical climates, are far rarer in cold climates. "Warm-blooded" mammals, on the other hand, are endothermic. They produce heat internally by a variety of means: shivering, sweating and regulating the size of their blood vessels. Brown fat also contributes by burning fatty acids, which heats the blood coursing nearby, and in turn warms the body. Though scientists once thought new brown fat was only made in babies, we now know that the human body is capable of creating new brown fat cells throughout life. In the recent years doctors also have discovered the amount of brown fat in the body is inversely proportional to the likelihood of obesity - the more brown fat people have, the less chance they are obese. The possibility of exploiting brown fat for weight loss became tantalizing after clinical evidence showed that certain drugs could alter the amount of brown fat a person has. In particular, a common class of drugs given to people with diabetes called PPAR-gamma ligands has been shown to increase brown fat. But scientists never understood why. Now Kajimura and his UCSF colleagues have demonstrated how it works. In their research, they showed that PPAR-gamma interacts with the protein PRDM16, making it more stable and leading to its accumulation inside cells. This essentially throws a genetic switch and converts the white fat cells to brown - at least in mice. According to Kajimura, the question remains whether it is possible to do this in people as well, and if so, how. While new drugs that target this protein may be years away, knowing the target may speed their development. The question is no longer how do we make brown fat, he added. Instead it now becomes a more specific question "Can we simply stabilize this protein?" The study has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.Source: ANI << Study Identifies Potential Drug Target For Psychiatric Illn... Mother's Voice May Improve Premature Babies' Health >> Recommended Reading Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss A few extra steps a day are enough to keep you fit. READ MORE Weight Loss with Hypnosis – Does It Work? Hypnosis indirectly helps with weight loss by altering the consciousness through suggestions and imagery to a more positive state. READ MORE Diet and Nutrition for Healthy Weight Loss Correct diet and a planned exercise regime is the mantra of healthy and sustainable weight loss. READ MORE Secret Weight Loss Tips for the Elderly Elderly are prone to gaining weight easily due to a slowdown in the body's basal metabolic rate. It takes longer for the elderly to digest food as compared to the young. READ MORE Battle of the Bulge The ‘battle of bulge’ is the toughest of all battles. Once you put on weight it is so difficult to get rid of it. Here are the best tips to fight off that extra flab. READ MORE Bulimia Nervosa The term ''Bulimia'' refers to episodes of uncontrolled excessive eating, known as "binges," followed by self-induced vomiting or purgation. READ MORE Diet Pills Diet pills are flooding the market by millions. The positive side of diet pills to most people is that they achieve their objective of losing weight. Medical reviews are against the use of diet pills. READ MORE Hunger Fullness and Weight Control An erratic way of eating or any metabolic disturbance in the hunger fullness signals is one of the major causes of obesity. READ MORE The Cabbage Diet The plausible reason that can be sited is the inherent low calorie property of cabbage. READ MORE Weight Loss Program For Men Maintaining a food diary and keeping a track of what you eat is the best way to keep your weight under check. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia The Essence of Yoga How to Reduce School Bag Weight - Simple Tips Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects More News on: Diet PillsThe Cabbage DietBulimia NervosaThe Macrobiotic DietHeight and Weight-KidsWeight Loss Program For MenBattle of the BulgeHunger Fullness and Weight ControlDiet and Nutrition for Healthy Weight LossWeight Loss with Hypnosis – Does It Work?