The fight against obesity has taken a significant step forward. A group of scientists has developed a method for delivering cholesterol-lowering drugs directly to the liver of obese mice via a nanogel carrier, effectively reversing the disease conditions caused by a high-fat diet. This discovery could mark a breakthrough in the treatment of related metabolic diseases.
The power of nanogels in the anti-cholesterol treatment and in the fight against obesity
Obesity, you well know, is one of the most serious health epidemics of our time. What if we could "reprogram" our bodies to fight this condition? Nanotechnology works towards this goal.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst research team led by the bioengineer and chemist S. Thai Thayumanavan has developed a nanogel capable of delivering a synthetic thyroid drug called thyromimetic directly to the liver.
These thyroid hormones play a crucial role in maintaining the metabolic balance of the liver. Normally, systemic administration of thyromimetics can reduce its efficacy and lead to side effects.
Aim at the right target
The real trick is to ensure that the drug reaches the liver exclusively. "We realized that we had to deliver this drug selectively to the liver because if it reached other parts of the body, it could cause complications," explains Thayumanavan.
Using mouse models, the team confirmed that their nanogel, with negatively charged surfaces, could be targeted specifically at hepatocytes, the liver cells.
Amazing anti-cholesterol results
After feeding thyromimetic encapsulated in anionic nanogels (ANG) to obese mice for five weeks, the results were remarkable. Despite a diet high in fat, sugar and cholesterol, the treated mice completely lost the weight they gained.
Even more impressive, their cholesterol levels dropped and the damaging liver inflammation totally disappeared. "We found that we're activating the reverse cholesterol transport pathway, which lowers cholesterol," says Thayumanavan.
While the results are extraordinarily promising, much work remains to be done. The transition from animal studies to human treatments requires further research and development. But Thayumanavan and his team are very optimistic about the prospect of developing a revolutionary anti-cholesterol treatment.
And not only that: building on the nanogel technologies developed by his laboratory, the team has the main objective of developing innovative delivery platforms for any type of drug, even those that already exist.
Obesity may seem like a formidable adversary, but with the advancement of science and technology we will always have new weapons in our arsenal: always considering that the best anti-cholesterol treatments remain a healthy life and a balanced diet.