New drug promises to "shrink" fat cells

If it's one of your 2018 New Year's resolutions to get rid of fat, then this new study might make your task seem a little less daunting, 

A team of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston have just documented how using small molecules to block the enzyme nicotinamide-N-methyltransferase (NNMT) led to the "shrinkage" of fat cells in obese mice fed a high-fat diet.

The study's senior author Stanley Watowich, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UTMB, and colleagues reveal that their findings indicate that targeting NNMT could be an effective way to tackle overweight and obesity

The team recently published their results in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology.

Obesity is a major public health problem around that world that is a leading cause of healthcare costs and compromised quality of life. In the U.S., 40 percent of adults are obese and 30 percent are overweight, battling serious obesity-related chronic diseases. The estimated cost of obesity in the U.S. is about $150 billion each year.

It is noted in this research that the main cause of weight gain is an "energy imbalance"--when we consume more calories than we burn. This prompts our bodies to store fat.

"As fat cells grow larger," stated Watowich, "they begin to overexpress a protein that acts as a metabolic brake that slows down fat cell metabolism, making it harder for these cells to burn accumulating fat."

"In addition," Watowich continued, "as the fat tissue expands, they secrete greater amounts of hormones and pro-inflammatory signals that are responsible for several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease." 

Watowich and his colleagues may have detected a way to restart fat cell metabolism in white fat cells, which are those that cause the most harm to health.