DIE WELT (Germany), NATURE COMMUNICATIONS (UK)
BONN - The equivalent of pressing a button that activates your body’s fat-burning mechanism...and watch the pounds disappear. It sounds like advertising hype, but researchers at the University of Bonn and their colleagues at Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices believe it may be revolutionize the approach to weight-loss.
In studies on lab mice, the researchers found a way of taking those pesky white fat cells responsible for turning excess food into ugly (and unhealthy) rolls around the middle and converting them into brown fat cells – the ones that make heat for the body.
Researchers working with Alexander Pfeifer, Director of the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn, reported on their findings in the online journal Nature Communications.
The scientists studied the gene-regulating micro-RNA 155 in mice that inhibits a certain transcription factor that controls brown fat cell function.
“Professor Pfeifer and his team found that the transcription factor also regulates the levels micro-RNA 155 establishing a tight feed-back loop that works like a toggle switch: when the micro-RNA is highly expressed brown fat cell differentiation is blocked; conversely, if the transcription factor wins the upper hand, brown fat is produced at an increased level and this in turn boosts fat burning in the body,” a university press release said.
The researchers have indications that their findings in mice will also apply to humans, and see the results as a “potential starting point for drugs to combat obesity,” Die Welt reports.
“However, we are still in the basic research stage,” Professor Pfeifer said, adding that “the path to suitable drugs is still a long one.”