By: Mari Gold
To help stem the obesity epidemic, researchers are looking at how certain hormones act on fat cells. Scientists know that “white” fat cells store fat while “brown” fat cells not only store fat but also turn it into energy, a process that goes awry in obesity.
Now, scientists at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute’s Diabetes and Obesity Research Center in Orlando, FL, are investigating heart hormones, specifically cardiac natriuretic peptides, to find ways to encourage receptors in a given fat cell to change from white into beige or brown fat.
By generating beige/brown fat, the body consumes more energy, potentially leading to weight loss. This new science could help treat obesity and thereby help lower the risk of related conditions, including type 2 diabetes.
The project is being funded via the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Innovation Award given to lead researcher Sheila Collins, PhD, a professor in the Metabolic Signaling and Disease Program at Sanford-Burnham.
“There is a critical need for novel approaches to treating obesity-in particular, agents acting to increase energy expenditure would be valuable. This award will allow us to continue our research into ways of increasing cellular energy expenditure,” Dr. Collins said.