Scientists Discover Drug That Increases “Good” Fat Mass and Function

The Gladstone Institute have discovered a new drug, approved by the FDA which among other things can lower weight and risks go type 2 diabetes. The drug works by increasing levels of brown fat which is beneficial for weight loss even in subjects eating higher calorie diets. As opposed to white fat which stores energy and builds body fat, brown fat burns energy, calories and white fat. The drug reprograms body’s cells to create brown fat. An anti-cancer drug called bexarotene or BEX targets a protein that creates brown fat. The RXR protein triggers muscle precursor cells and white fat cells to create brown fat. Gladstone performed a 4 week trial feeding mica a high calorie diet but half of them also received BEX. BEX treated mice had more brown fat and gained less weight. The drug needs further testing but is promising.

Key Points:

  • 1Scientists believe an FDA-approved anti-cancer drug, bexarotene (Bex), can create brown fat that could be a new way to combat obesity and type II diabetes.
  • 2Brown fat helps the body burn energy. Making the body store brown fat is a better way to lose weight than controlling appetite like most current weight loss drugs do.
  • 3Bex activates a protein called retinoid X receptor (RXR), which triggers genes needed to produce brown fat and turns off genes linked to white fat or muscle

In the new study, published in Cell Reports, scientists in the laboratory of Gladstone Senior Investigator Sheng Ding, PhD, used cellular reprogramming to convert muscle precursor cells and white fat cells into brown fat cells.

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