Microneedle Patch May Replace Lasers & Injections for Fat Removal

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Researchers created a skin patch to deliver a drug that can convert white fat to calorie-burning brown fat.

Liposuction is still one of the top procedures performed by surgeons worldwide. It is consistently in the top five in the ISAPS Global Statistics, and it may continue to rise.

On the other hand, fat freezing, lasers, radio-frequency, and ultrasound technology are the common treatment modes of treatment for fat removal. These devices have different effects on each individual, some may work, some may not.

What if patients do not need to go to a clinic and could eventually stick a patch on themselves to remove the fat?

A patch is currently being developed to burn the fat in your “love handles”, and it is being tested in mice. A study by Zhang et al. (2017) They use brown fat by using nanoparticles and Rosiglitazone on the patch. The researchers used brown fat because of its properties. They used the in vivo method in their study. Their patch seemed effective on the mice and it could serve as therapeutic use for patients with obesity. In their study, the researchers found an increase in the following factors: energy, oxidation, and body weight control (Zhang et al., 2017, p. E).

 Zhang et al., ACS Nano

Zhang et al., ACS Nano

The research team designed a skin patch with 121 cone-shaped polymer needles that can be filled with a drug encapsulated by nanoparticles. The tiny needles penetrate the skin and the ends collapse. The nanoparticles then slowly release the browning drug into the fat cells. By delivering the drug directly to fat cells, the drug’s side effects in other parts of the body might be prevented or minimized.

The researchers tested the skin patch, which was a little larger than a pencil eraser, on the abdominal fat pads of three groups of normal mice. The first group received a skin patch without any drug; the second group received a patch containing rosiglitazone (a diabetes drug that’s also known as Rosi or by its trade name Avandia); and the third group received a patch containing a compound called CL 316243. In mice treated with either drug, the white fat cells shrunk and beige fat cells appeared. A genetic analysis and other tests confirmed that both drugs induced fat browning and improved metabolism in the mice.

The research team then treated obese mice with skin patches for 4 weeks. The drugs increased browning, as evidenced by smaller fat cells and increased expression of brown fat cell genes. They also reduced the size of the fat pad and improved metabolic signs.

It's possible, even likely, that patches may eventually replace surgical and non-surgical means of losing fat in the love handles? For now, patients would still need to undergo either a surgical or non-surgical procedure.