Scientists have developed a form of nanoparticle delivery system which may be effective in the fight against obesity.

The nanoparticle delivery system can transport specific obesity-fighting drugs to the white adipose tissue in the body, helping to circumvent potential side effects which can occur if the drugs find their way to other parts of the body.

This style of delivery system has been used and developed to work with cancer treatment, specifically targeting the cancer cells and delivering drugs direct to the site where they are needed. By altering the nanoparticle ‘packages’, the researchers can direct the delivery to white adipose tissue instead.

This tissue is a form of fatty tissue which develops in the body and is a way to store energy. Brown adipose tissue, on the other hand, is a type of fat tissue which burns away energy in order to produce heat.

The medication works by transforming white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue, but in the past, there have been issues with getting the medication to specifically target the white tissue, an issue this delivery system addresses. Brown adipose tissue has more blood vessels than white adipose tissue, so when the transformation occurs, the nanoparticle delivery system gets reinforced and can become more effective.

“The advantage here is now you have a way of targeting it to a particular area and not giving the body systemic effects. You can get the positive effects that you’d want in terms of anti-obesity but not the negative ones that sometimes occur,” says Professor Robert Langer of MIT told MNT.

Obesity is a huge issue across America and a reliable way to reduce a patient’s weight would be a significant way to reduce the risks of heart disease and conditions like type 2 diabetes.

It has previously been known that when used in mice, the fat-converting drugs used have caused weight loss, but that they can also have unwanted side effects. Using the new delivery method, mice, that had been fed a high fat diet and therefore had become obese, were given alternate-day doses for 25 days, and lost around 10 per cent of their body fat with no recorded side effects. They also became more sensitive to insulin.

One of the drugs that was packaged in the nanoparticle delivery system was rosiglitazone, a drug sometimes used to treat diabetes. Unfortunately, the drug can have adverse side effects, and so it is not so widely used.
The delivery system used in this trial could well avoid these side effects and improve the treatment of type 2 diabetes, increasing insulin sensitivity and return blood glucose levels to normal.