Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brown fat Vs White fat - A new Insight into obesity development .

Stem cells are the so called mother cells from which differentiated functionally specific cells are generated. These cells are present in high concentrations in children during their early growth phase but gradually declines as aging sets in. The recent discovery that brown fats which are metabolically more active do not cause obesity may herald a new era for treatment of this epidemic which is assuming alarming proportions, especially among population in wealthy countries. It is a fact that the proportion of brown fat to white fat in children is heavily loaded in favor of the former while in adults it is the other way. Specific fat cells are involved in fat synthesis and if adequate amount of brown fat synthesizing cells are available in the body, white fat accumulation can be slowed down dramatically. These findings open up a new vista for "managing" obesity, diabetes and CVD. Here is a take on this new exciting development.

Until now, it was thought that brown fat stem cells did not exist in adults. Children have large amounts of brown fat that is highly metabolically active, which allows them to eat large amounts of food and not gain weight. "The study was led by Amit N Patel, director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering, and associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Adults generally have an abundance of white fat in their bodies, which leads to weight gain and cardiovascular disease but this is not seen in brown fat, Patel said. As people age the amount of white fat increases and brown fat decreases which contributes to diabetes and high cholesterol. "If you have more brown fat, you weigh less, you're metabolically efficient, and you have fewer instances of diabetes and high cholesterol," Patel said. "The unique identification of human brown fat stem cells in the chest of patients aged from 28 to 84 years is profound. We were able to isolate the human stem cells, culture and grow them, and implant them into a pre-human model which has demonstrated positive effects on glucose levels," said Patel. The new discovery of finding brown fat stem cells may help in identifying potential drugs that may increase the body's own ability to make brown fat or find novel ways to directly implant the brown fat stem cells into patients. Though the above findings are in early stages of elaboration, there is definite indication that it should be possible to manipulate the brown fat to white fat ratio through a genetic approach involving transplantation of brown fat cells or evolving a medicinal approach to increase the ability of the body to make more brown fat." 

Though the research is at an early stage these findings add considerably to the current knowledge about the tendency of some people to put on weight from eating. The possibility of implanting stem cells that can differentiate into brown fat synthesizing cells in obese people opens up exciting possibilities for treatment of diseases like diabetes and CVD. How easy this could be remains to be seen. Also possible is development of suitable medicines that can tilt the scale vis-a-vis the ratio of brown fat to white fat in favor of the former. Of course it may take years before a potential workable therapy becomes a main stream tool to tackle obesity based on these new scientific findings. 


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