A new skin patch could get rid of stubborn fat in the love handles, a study claims.
Experts created a patch that delivers fat-busting drugs directly into the area affected through microscopic needles and is designed to help someone lose weight.
The patches were tested on mice and researchers reported their fat was reduced by 20 percent when using the device.
They also found that the patch can help treat metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes in people.
The researchers are using the new information to study other drugs and medications that can help with human metabolism and losing weight.
Skin patches that release fat-burning drugs directly into areas on the body could help with problems such as love handles. Researchers from Columbia University and University of North Carolina tested the patches on mice and found they lost 20 percent of their fat (file photo)
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina devised the medicated skin patch to test on mice.
This skin patch is supposed to turn energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat locally while helping with the body’s overall metabolism.
Humans have two types of fat. White fat stores excess energy in large triglyceride droplets. Brown fat has smaller droplets and a high number of mitochondria that burn fat to produce heat.
Newborns have a relative abundance of brown fat, which protects against exposure to cold temperatures. But by adulthood, most brown fat is lost.
The patch can be used to burn off pockets of unwanted fat such as the ‘love handles’.
It can also help treat metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.
‘There are several clinically available drugs that promote browning, but all must be given as pills or injections,’ said study co-leader Dr Li Qiang, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at CUMC.
‘This exposes the whole body to the drugs, which can lead to side effects such as stomach upset, weight gain, and bone fractures. Our skin patch appears to alleviate these complications by delivering most drugs directly to fat tissue.’
The patch has microscopic needles across it that when applied to the skin will painlessly pierce the desired area.
Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles
Dr Li Qiang, lead author and assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center
The medication is located in nanoparticles in the needles and will be released into the underlying tissue.
‘The nanoparticles were designed to effectively hold the drug and then gradually collapse, releasing it into nearby tissue in a sustained way instead of spreading the drug throughout the body quickly,’ said patch designer and study co-leader Dr Zhen Gu, associate professor of joint biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Each mouse was given two patches–one loaded with drug,containing nanoparticles and another without drug, that were placed on either side of the lower abdomen.
New patches were applied every three days for a total of four weeks. Control mice were also given two empty patches.
The researchers designed the patch to have microscopic needles. These needles painlessly go through the skin to help deliver fat-burning medication directly to the tissue area
Mice treated with either of the two drugs had a 20 percent reduction in fat on the treated side compared to the untreated side.
They also had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels than untreated mice.
Tests in normal, lean mice revealed that treatment with either of the two drugs increased the animals’ oxygen consumption (a measure of overall metabolic activity) by about 20 percent compared to untreated controls.
Genetic analyses revealed that the treated side contained more genes associated with brown fat than on the untreated side, suggesting that the observed metabolic changes and fat reduction were due to an increase in browning in the treated mice.
‘Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles,’ Dr Qiang said.
‘What’s much more important is that our patch may provide a safe and effective means of treating obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes.’
The patch has not been tested in humans.
The researchers are currently studying which drugs, or combination of drugs, work best to promote localized browning and increase overall metabolism.