“You could call it an invisible diet,” said Tim Gilbertson, a Utah State biology professor. “This technology will help people to feel satisfied with a small serving of food instead of a large helping.”
The process involves nanoparticles, said Gilbertson. A feeling of fullness is created by a smaller amount of food when the nanoparticles are inside the cells because the nanoparticles are made of the same fat molecules that are naturally in the body’s cells.
The lipid molecules are replicated in the laboratory and then directed toward specific fat cells in the body. In obesity treatment, the fat cells in the intestines are used. “We’re trying to trick receptors into thinking they have fat when it’s actually not there,” said Gilbertson.
Although the research is in the early stages, Gilbertson’s team is encouraged by preliminary results and the technology’s success in other medical fields.
The job of receptors, some of which are located in the small intestine, is to send chemicals to the brain that signal when we’ve ingested fat. In some people, these fat receptors are not as sensitive, causing these individuals to eat more fatty foods than someone who has more sensitive receptors, he said.
“Therefore, one approach is to fool our body’s fat sensors into thinking we’re eating fat by developing fat substitutes that target this particular receptor,” said Gilbertson. “The problem is that these receptors are in many places in the body, and we only want to target those that directly control food intake to avoid harmful side effects.”
One solution, said Gilbertson, is to develop nanoparticle technology that can find the fat receptors in specific sites only. The particles could deliver a drug to cause the cell to increase its release of feeding-related hormones, the chemical signals that are sent to the brain when food, in particular fat, is ingested.
MEDICA.de; Source: Utah State University