CRISPRing Up Brown Fat
The first steps towards an autologous cell therapy for obesity
James Strachan | | Quick Read
In the hope of treating obesity or type 2 diabetes, researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center, USA, have used CRISPR to boost expression of the UCP1 gene in progenitor white fat cells to create brown-fat-like cells (1). Brown fat cells are said to be beneficial because they burn energy instead of storing energy, as white fat cells do.
The researchers transplanted their “HUMBLE” progenitor cells into mice on a high fat diet and found that the mice had greater sensitivity to insulin and a greater ability to clear glucose from the blood than the control group. The HUMBLE mice also put on less weight.
Though human trials are still some way off, the team has envisaged an autologous cell therapy protocol whereby a patient's white fat cells are removed, the progenitor cells isolated and modified to boost expression of UCP1, and the resulting HUMBLE cells returned to the patient.
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- CH Wang et al., “CRISPR-engineered human brown-like adipocytes prevent diet-induced obesity and ameliorate metabolic syndrome in mice,” Sci Trans Med, 12, 558 (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/32NqJX1