Transplanting human brown-like fat cells may provide novel therapy for obesity and diabetes

Yu-Hua Tseng, a senior investigator in Joslin’s Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism.

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) — Scientists at the Joslin Diabetes Center say they have developed a proof of concept for a novel cell-based therapy against obesity. The potential therapy for obesity would transplant HUMBLE (human brown-like) fat cells, human white fat cells that have been genetically modified to become similar to heat-generating brown fat cells, said Yu-Hua Tseng, PhD, a senior investigator in Joslin’s Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism.

Brown fat cells burn energy instead of storing energy as white fat cells do, noted Tseng, senior author on the paper, “CRISPR-engineered human brown-like adipocytes prevent diet-induced obesity and ameliorate metabolic syndrome in mice,” that was recently published in Science Translational Medicine. In the process, brown fat can lower excessive levels of glucose and lipids in the blood that are linked to metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

However, people who are overweight or obese tend to have less of this beneficial brown fat—a barrier that HUMBLE cells are designed to overcome, according to Tseng. (…)

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