Most people rely on heavy exercise, excessive dieting or even liposuction to lessen the pockets of unwanted fat, including “love handles”, of the body. However, exercise and diet need a huge amount of discipline to maintain. Liposuction not only sucks the fat out of your body but also draws money out of your accounts.

People who can’t maintain their exercise and diet, and can’t afford liposuction could greatly benefit from a new skin patch capable of burning unwanted Fats. The skin patch, described in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, was developed by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina.

Microneedle skin patch converts white fat into brown fat

There are two types of fats in humans. These are the white fat and the brown fat. While the white fat stores excess energy, brown fat is responsible for burning energy and producing heat. White fat can naturally transform into brown fat when the body is exposed to cold temperatures. This process, known as “browning”, occurs to help the body produce heat and cope with the low temperature.

The new centimeter-square patch contains nanoparticles and dozens of microscopic needles. The nanoparticles hold a drug that promotes browning. When the microneedles pierce through the skin, the nanoparticles collapse and gradually release the drug directly into underlying tissue.

Because the drug was delivered directly to fat tissue, it doesn’t have the usual side effects of other clinically available browning drugs that were taken as pills or injections.

Increased browning could potentially treat metabolic disorders

In an experiment conducted on mice, the researchers found that the micro-needle patch not only promotes browning but also increases the overall Metabolic Activity of the mice.

Additionally, the drug contained in the skin patch significantly reduced the mice's fasting blood glucose levels.

The researchers tested two drugs during the experiment. These are the rosiglitazone (Avandia) and beta-adrenergic receptor agonist (CL 316243). Both drugs were able to increase the mice's oxygen consumption, which is a measure of overall metabolic activity, by 20 percent.

The increase in metabolic activity suggests that the patch could potentially be used as a safe and effective means of treating metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes.

So far, the skin patch was only tested on animal models. The next step for the researchers is finding out which drugs or combination of drugs could work well with the skin patch’s localized browning and increase overall metabolism.