Researchers at Genetech Inc. in South San Francisco, California, led by molecular biologist Junichiro Sonoda, have discovered that a single injection of antibodies into obese diabetic mice provided a marked and sustained improvement in their condition and a reduction in their weight.
The research by Genetech, which is part of the Roche Group, targeted “brown fat,” and the injections resulted in greater energy expenditure, lowered blood sugar, and reduced fat in the livers of the mice. Researcher Dr. Sonoda said the results were unprecedented, with the drug removing liver fat, which improves the disease conditions.
Brown fat is a specialized kind of fat (adipose tissue) that burns energy to keep the body warm, rather than storing it for future energy needs. Independent studies by three groups of scientists in 2009 found that adult bodies have small amounts of brown fat, primarily around the shoulder blades, the spine, and in the neck. Until this research it had been assumed that brown fat was only found in babies.
The finding of brown adipose tissue in adults led to the idea that if the brown fat could be activated, people might lose weight through burning more calories, and this could reduce the levels of obesity and associated conditions such as type 2 diabetes