(ORDO NEWS) — In the new work, scientists have pinpointed a metabolite that turns a bad type of fat into a better one, raising hope for new treatments for obesity with minimal side effects.
It turned out that an already approved asthma drug has the ability to turn brown fat into white and thereby burn energy that would otherwise accumulate in the form of body fat.
A new study from the Scripps Institute has focused on the difference between white and brown fat in the human body and the metabolic processes that favor one type of adipose tissue over another.
White fat cells are deposited in the abdomen and arms, while brown fat cells burn this stored energy to generate heat, helping to reverse metabolic imbalances that can lead to conditions like obesity and diabetes.
Magic pill for bad fat
During the study, the authors examined a catalog of existing drug compounds that have already been tested for safety in volunteers.
Advanced screening techniques led scientists to one interesting FDA-approved drug called zafirlukast. Notably, it is an asthma drug.
Cell culture experiments have shown that zafirlukast can convert adipose progenitor cells to predominantly brown fat cells, as well as convert white fat cells to brown.
However, the problem was that zafirlukast is toxic at high doses, and questions remained about what exactly caused these effects.
Another advanced screening technique, called drug-triggered activity metabolomics, has given scientists some answers.
They sifted through thousands of metabolites to find the one that caused brown fat cells to form. In the end, the researchers found the right compound.
Named myristoylglycine, this metabolite was the only one of thousands tested that had the required characteristics.
The metabolite is synthesized in the body during treatment with zafirlukast and creates the same effects of turning fat cells into each other without the toxic effects of the drug.
This is a great example of how natural metabolites can be used to treat disease.
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