Friday, July 31, 2009

How now, Brown Mouse Fat?

Yeah, I know. It doesn't flow off the tongue as smoothly as the classic "How Now, Brown Cow" But that lack of smooth-ness can be forgiven should some research being conducted at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute pan out.

You see, they're trying to develop a mouse model for having brown fat in adult humans. I know, I know--the phrase "brown fat" does sound kinda gross but it's got a lot of advantages over the more common white fat, the type found in adult humans. Here's some wiki on it:
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) or brown fat is one of two types of fat or adipose tissue (the other being white adipose tissue) found in mammals. It is especially abundant in newborns and in hibernating mammals.[1] Its primary function is to generate body heat, in animals or newborns that do not shiver. In contrast to white adipocytes (fat cells), which contain a single lipid droplet, brown adipocytes contain numerous smaller droplets and a much higher number of mitochondria, which contain iron and make it brown.

Neat, huh? Fat that burns calories! I certainly would prefer to have that type around my waist rather than the type I have now. Nasty white fat! Of course no fat at all would be best of all--but who's kidding who? That's not about to happen.

According to a press release from the journal Nature: A team led by Dr Bruce Spiegelman has identified both parts of a molecular switch that normally causes some immature muscle cells in the embryo to become brown fat cells. The scientists showed they could manipulate the molecular switch to force other types of cells in the laboratory to produce brown fat.

According to Dr Spiegelman, a possible treatment would be to administer a drug to the patient that would ramp up the production of brown fat without the need for a transplant: "If we can find a hormone that does that, it's reasonable to think that it might provide a direct anti-obesity treatment."

This t-shirt logo has absolutely nothing to do with this topic but since I had a t-shirt on yesterday's post, I decided, what the hell, and here's another one.

And you know, it's kinda cute the way the one squirrel came up with an easy way to gather nuts. Since squirrels don't hibernate, and need those nuts all though the winter, I bet they don't have brown fat as adults either. And I'll tell you, around this area most of the squirrels are damn fat. University campuses are places with lots of food around and no predators. Lotsa fat and happy squirrels here.

3 comments:

jan said...

Now I know I want to come back as a bear in my next life.

But I'm confused, they are going to turn immature muscle cells into (brown) fat cells that burn calories. Don't muscle cells burn calories? Wouldn't it be better to develop the muscle cells? Ok, I'm not of a scientific bent.

kenju said...

I need a white belly fat-ectomy.

rosemary said...

I think my fat has yellowed with age. BTW.....contrary to popular belief we have proof that those non-hibernating squirrels store and let rot about 75% of the nuts they get....we find them every year in the wheelbarrow, planters, tree hollows etc. They do eat some but not a lot.