Scientists have made a discovery while editing genes wherein fat cells may be turned into energy-burning cells.
Fat cells used for storage were turned into cells that burn energy by CRISPR gene editing, carried out by a group of researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Centre’s Touchstone Diabetes Centre.
The group likened the process to ‘flipping a switch’. The leader of the study, Rana Gupta, shared how, in order to engineer ‘a mutation that disrupts the interaction between a single pair of proteins’, the team ‘removed the “brake” on the energy burning pathway in fast cells’.
The research then discovered that ‘existing diabetes medications’ can possibly be made much more effective by ‘releasing this brake in fat cells’. The National Institutes of Health supported the research, which added to previous research by the same team in 2016 called Cell Metabolism. The latest findings were published in Genes and Development.
Dr. Gupta – who called diabetes ‘the pandemic before the pandemic’ – noted how much of a ‘tremendous interest’ there is in speeding the creation of such cells since their discovery, given that it could aid diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
According to Dr Gupta, people with obesity have few brown and beige fat cells (those that help burn energy), whereas they have larger numbers of white cells and of a bigger size, cells of which store energy. Brown cells aid against the possibility of diabetes and of cardiovascular diseases from formulating.
The rise of obesity across the globe has put ample of pressure on researchers to understand ‘all aspects of adipose tissue biology’ and how the body forms fat cells, Dr. Gupta concluded.