A new animal study has revealed that a drug that mimics the activity of thyroid hormone significantly increases the amount of energy burned by fat tissue and promotes weight loss.
New research conducted last year in a genetically engineered animal model showed that the activity of white-fat cells could be altered to behave more like brown-fat cells in terms of their fat-burning capabilities.
The changes were small, however, so the potential health benefits of this process, aptly termed "beiging," are unclear.
The study's lead author Jean Lin, BS, a graduate research fellow at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston, TX, said that brown adipose tissue, or BAT has the remarkable ability to dissipate excess energy as heat, thus conferring resistance to obesity.
"This study has uncovered a new mechanism by which thyroid hormone signaling regulates thermogenesis and metabolic rate and demonstrates the profound therapeutic potential of white fat beiging," she said.
Lin and her co-investigators examined the beiging effects of the experimental drug called GC-1.
In the body, this drug binds to proteins called thyroid hormone receptors, which play a role in turning food into energy when activated by thyroid hormone.
Researchers found that GC-1 increased the metabolism of obese mice by more than 60 percent.
Furthermore, this increase in metabolic rate led to significant weight loss within two weeks.
The results were presented at the Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, on Sunday.