Novel drug turns 'bad' white fat into 'good' brown fat

Scientists have found an experimental drug that turned "bad" fat cells into "good" brown-like fat.

New York: Scientists have found an experimental drug that turned "bad" fat cells into "good" brown-like fat.

Known as GC-1, the drug reportedly enhanced metabolism, or burning off, of fat cells, causing loss of weight and fat in mice.

"GC-1 dramatically increases the metabolic rate, essentially converting white fat, which stores excess calories and is associated with obesity and metabolic disease, into a fat like calorie-burning brown fat," explained study author Kevin Phillips, researcher at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston.

Until several years ago, scientists thought that only animals and human infants have energy-burning, "good" brown fat.

"It is now clear that human adults do have brown fat, but appear to lose its calorie-burning activity over time," Brown added.

People who have more brown fat have a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes.

Researchers are now working on ways to convert white fat it into brown fat.

GC-1 works by activating the receptors for thyroid hormone which play a role in regulating metabolism -- the body's conversion of food into energy.

Thyroid hormone receptors also help with adaptive thermogenesis, in which the body converts excess energy (calories and fat) to heat.

"Genetically obese mice lost weight and more than 50 percent of their fat mass in approximately two weeks," Phillips noted.

The drug also induced adaptive thermogenesis in fat cells isolated from mice.

"Our data demonstrate that GC-1 is a novel fat-browning agent that may have use in the treatment of obesity and metabolic disease," Phillips emphasised.

GC-1 is also being tested in clinical trials for lowering cholesterol, under the name sobetirome.

The results were presented at the Endocrine Society's 97th annual meeting in San Diego, California, this week.

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