In 2017, 41.9% of Americans experienced some level of obesity. Adults experiencing obesity in 2019 spent an average of $1,861 more on medical expenses than people with a healthy weight.
For people who experience obesity, the presence of excess fat is a legitimate concern that can cost money, cause additional health problems and be associated with psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
Some of the health concerns associated with obesity include high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease and osteoarthritis. Research has found that extreme obesity is associated with suicidal behavior and suicide attempts in adults.
With growing data on the impacts of obesity, researchers at organizations like the National Institute of Health and Harvard Medical School have devoted resources to understanding new methods for combatting metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Both the National Institute of Health and Harvard Medical School reportedly made an exciting discovery. While fat has often been villainized, what many people may not know is that there are two types of fat cells — brown fat cells and white fat cells.
Excessive amounts of white fat can be concerning and may lead to an increased risk for health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and numerous other metabolic diseases.
On the other hand, brown fat cells have been found to potentially be an important tool for combating different metabolic diseases. When people with high brown fat activity are exposed to a relatively cold temperature, a protein (SLC25A44) is produced and used as energy in cells to generate heat, which results in burned calories and increased metabolism. When researchers blocked the production of this protein in mice, it was found to increase levels of obesity and signs of diabetes.
Researchers found that boosting SLC25A44 activity is a promising strategy for potentially treating conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Companies such as Ember Therapeutics Inc. EMBT, Adipo Therapeutics LLC and BioRestorative Therapies Inc. BRTX are actively working to use these scientific studies to combat metabolic diseases.
Promising New Treatments
One of the treatments developed by BioRestorative Therapies designed to potentially target obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders is ThermoStem. BioRestorative says that the ThermoStem program uses brown adipose-derived (otherwise known as brown fat) stem cells to help increase metabolic activity. Previously published studies by BioRestorative have demonstrated that transplanting brown fat can increase metabolic activity and regulate metabolic dysfunction in diet-induced obese mice. BioRestorative Therapies reports it is working on Investigational New Drug Application (IND)-enabling studies to enter into first-in-man clinical studies. Using a cell-based approach to target metabolic disorders may potentially provide a disruptive solution to address a multi-billion market opportunity.
While the fight against metabolic disorders such as obesity is far from over, it is hopeful that therapies based on the findings surrounding brown fat, such as ThermoStem may provide relief for many currently struggling.
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