A new faculty member of the Diabetes Center, Shingo Kajimura, PhD, has discovered how to reengineer ordinary white fat into brown fat to help the body burn more calories and lose weight. It is believed that brown fat evolved in man as a protection from the cold. Not only is the amount of brown fat in the body inversely proportional to the likelihood of obesity, we now know that the human body is capable of creating new brown fat cells throughout life.
In lab animals, Dr. Kajimura and his colleagues have discovered that a common class of drugs given to people with diabetes called PPAR-gamma ligands interact with the protein PDRM16, enabling the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat cells. This discovery could lead to the creation of new weight loss drugs in the future.