Newly discovered brown fat cells hold possibilities for treating diabetes, obesity

Obesity and diabetes have become a global epidemic leading to severe cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Utah believe their recent identification of brown fat stem cells in adult humans may lead to new treatments for heart and endocrine disorders, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Stem Cells.

The study was led by Amit N. Patel, M.D. M.S., 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.

Prior to Patel's study, 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. Patel notes, adults generally have an abundance of white fat in their bodies, which leads to weight gain and but this is not seen in brown fat. As people age the amount of white fat increases and brown fat decreases which contributes to diabetes and .

"If you have more brown fat, you weigh less, you're metabolically efficient, and you have fewer instances of diabetes and high cholesterol. 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 into patients.

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/stem.1595/pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists develop a new way to identify good fat

Sep 18, 2013

When it comes to fat, you want the brown type and not so much of the white variety because brown fat burns energy to keep you warm and metabolically active, while white fat stores excess energy around your ...

Recommended for you

Gamers helping in Ebola research

14 hours ago

Months before the recent Ebola outbreak erupted in Western Africa, killing more than a thousand people, scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design were looking for a way to stop the deadly virus.

Carcinogenic role of a protein in liver decoded

17 hours ago

The human protein EGFR controls cell growth. It has mutated in case of many cancer cells or exists in excessive numbers. For this reason it serves as a point of attack for target-oriented therapies. A study ...

A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

Aug 31, 2014

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and ...

User comments