'Brown fat drug' could one day replace insulin injections

More research pointing to the positive effects of brown fat suggests that this type of "good" fat could one day be used to replace insulin injections.

An application of a "brown fat drug" may enable the body to control blood sugar levels more easily - as brown fat produces high amounts of a protein that transports glucose into cells.

"In theory if we can find out how to stimulate brown fat into action, we could use it, not only to manage obesity, but type 2 diabetes too," said Dr Masaaki Sato from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS). "Our findings are at a very early stage but they show real potential to find a new way to manage this disease."

The brown fat mystery

Brown fat is located on the upper half of the spine, the shoulders and the back. It's more common in young people and in people living in colder environments.

Studies have linked brown fat to the ability to burn calories while utilizing body heat and also the ability to clear away excess sugar from cells, Medical Xpress reports.

Why some adults have more brown fat than others, however, is still somewhat of a mystery.

"We know brown fat absorbs excess glucose in the blood at a much more efficient rate than other mechanisms in the body," said Dr. Dana Hutchinson, co-author of the study. "Unfortunately, if you're diabetic, you're far less likely to have it."

Understanding more how brown fat works could enable researchers to develop a new medicine for type 2 diabetes treatment.

The study is published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

Source: Monash University

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