Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fat Chance
01 January 2015

Fat Chance

Slimming pills peddled by quack doctors have disappointed millions of people – but laboratory experiments have now identified two substances that really can make your body burn excess calories instead of putting on weight. We all have white fat cells that store energy and a much smaller number of brown ones that convert energy to body heat. Scientists tested 1,000 chemical compounds to find two that changed the internal workings of white fat cells (pictured, stained green), so that they behaved like brown cells. Changing the body’s natural balance of fat cells in favour of brown ones could be an important weapon in the fight against obesity. However, years of safety testing lies ahead before a ‘fat busting pill’ could be produced – and it would be a very poor substitute for a healthy diet and exercise.

Written by Mick Warwicker

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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