A group of scientists from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) recently developed a drug that can suppress obesity by seeking out and terminating stem cells that generate fat. In mice models of obesity, the drug was able to successfully prevent weight gain. Findings on this drug, dubbed D-WAT, were recently published in the journal Cell Death & Differentiation. The study, titled “Depletion of white adipocyte progenitors induces beige adipocyte differentiation and suppresses obesity development,” is funded by the American Heart Association and the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that of every three Americans, one is overweight or obese. This means there are over 78 million overweight and obese Americans who are all at risk for developing heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and other life-altering and life-threatening conditions.
D-WAT is an experimental drug that may offer a solution to the unhealthy, excessive fat stores commonly seen around one’s midsection, as previous tests show that it not only prevents fat accumulation, but manages to convert stored white fat into insulating and metabolically-active brown fat. The study’s senior author, Mikhail Kolonin, Ph.D., who is also the holder of the Harry E. Bovay, Jr. Distinguished University Chair in Metabolic Disease Research at the UTHealth Medical School, said humans must strive to have a balanced amount of white and brown fat, as the body needs both types. D-WAT is able to limit the number of white fat-generating stem cells, while facilitating the production of brown adipocytes.
Kolonin adds, the experimental drug seems to affect long term effects, and may even be beneficial in treating cancer as previous studies have shown white adipose stem cells drive tumor growth. D-WAT’s destruction of these cells may help inhibit cancer progression. “Our study potentially provides an approach for the sustained activation of brown fat; although, additional tests are needed in advance of clinical trials.”
In other news on obesity, a group of researchers at the Yonsei University College of Medicine in Korea published a study that sought to relate the prevalence of diabetes with that of obesity and coronary artery disease in an Asian population, due to an upward trend in cases of diabetes and obesity in the region.