Skip navigation
New insight about brown fat may help combat obesity

This is Science Today. Using one's own fat cells to burn calories may seem like a dieter's dream, but researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have made a discovery that may make this scenario a reality. Dr. Shingo Kajimura discovered that a common class of diabetes drugs interacts with a protein in the body that triggers a genetic switch and converts calorie-storing white fat cells into calorie-burning brown fat cells.

Kajimura:       So, the idea is to now convert white fat into brown fat by chemicals. That way, this can beat out sort of the alternative approach to counteract obesity. We're not suggesting that brown fat can cure obesity. We think this is sort of supplement together with exercise and healthy diet.

Narrator:        So far, the researchers have demonstrated in lab mice how certain drugs stimulate the production of brown fat cells, but next is bringing this to humans in a clinical setting.

Kajimura:       One thing we're trying to do is come up with a new class of compound that specifically increases energy expenditure.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.