Published on 25 Jan 2022

Fat-burning hydrogel fights obesity

NTU Singapore scientists have developed a new therapeutic approach to obesity and related metabolic disorders that in laboratory experiments demonstrated a significant reduction in body fat, body weight, and improvement in the blood markers that accompany these disorders.

Developed by a team from NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE), their method begins with an injection of a specially developed hydrogel using an insulin needle, into a fat deposit directly under the skin. A near infrared light is then shone on the site of the injection for five minutes a few times daily, over a few days, activating the hydrogel’s fat-burning ability.

Through mice experiments, the scientists showed that mice on a high fat diet that were put on this treatment were lighter in body mass after two weeks, as compared to obese mice in the group that did not receive the treatment. The treated mice also had 40 per cent less subcutaneous fat (directly under the skin) and 54 per cent less visceral fat (wrapped around internal organs deep inside the body), and showed lower levels of cholesterol and insulin resistance, indicating the treatment’s potential to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders.

The scientists believe their innovation could one day become an alternative to costly fat reduction procedures that target only subcutaneous fat, and obesity drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that often come with side effects.

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