Gene therapy is supposed to make body fat healthier

It will be possible to measure one unique gene in our fat cells with the aim of curing obesity. By removing this particular gene, scientists can change the cells to…

It will be possible to measure one unique gene in our fat cells with the aim of curing obesity. By removing this particular gene, scientists can change the cells to burn fat instead of storing it.

Genetic experiments on mice show that obesity can be treated by changing the body’s fat cells.

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts in the United States achieved this success by relying on the so-called CRISPR technology, which consists in cutting certain genes from the genetic material of the cells.

Brown fat burns energy

There are two types of fat in our bodies, the so-called white fat and brown fat. In the white fat, the cells play the role of passive fat accumulation, while the brown fat cells activate the burning and let the body convert fat into heat.

One gene changes the fat

With a new method, it will soon be possible to turn unhealthy white fat into brown by removing a single gene from circulation.

1 – White fat cells removed from circulation

Doctors remove traditional white fat cells from the obese patient’s body. One gram of cells is sufficient.

2. A gene removed from the nucleus

By using the so-called CRISPR technology, the gene NRIP1 is removed from the cells and they turn into brown fat cells.

3. Brown cells added

When the brown fat cells are placed in the body, they convert fat into heat and the obese person begins to lose weight.

Babies have many brown fat cells at their disposal and as a result can easily get heat in the body, but the number of brown cells decreases as we get older.

The new technology can completely change this at will. Scientists removed white fat cells from people and cut out a gene called NRIP1.

Altered genes tolerate fatty foods

Once the cells were free of the genetic code, they turned into brown fat cells, which the researchers then injected into lab mice. The researchers then fed the mice a high-fat diet to test the effects. Other mice received the same treatment, but actually only received white fat cells.

The results revealed that the brown fat mice gained half the weight of the white fat mice.

When white fat is converted to brown, not only does weight loss occur, but the condition of the liver improves accordingly. This was shown by experiments with mice. After the treatment, the mice tolerated a fattier diet, and the size of the liver remained the same. The same story could be said about its color (bottom picture). Mice fed a high-fat diet, without the treatment, had larger and lighter livers (upper image).

Blood sugar levels of the mice with the brown fat remained normal, as did insulin sensitivity. The mice with the white fat, on the other hand, developed symptoms of diabetes and their blood sugar levels were abnormal.

The technology will be tested on monkeys

Studies of the mice’s livers further revealed differences. The mice with the brown fat generally had darker livers, while the mice with the white fat had larger and lighter livers.

The scientists plan to experiment with the method on monkeys before finally being able to start experiments on humans.

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