Obesity is a chronic disease with a multifactorial aetiology that includes genetic, environmental, metabolic, lifestyle, and behavioural components. It is characterized by an abnormal or excessive accumulation of white adipose tissue (WAT) that can be detrimental to health. Most common obesity treatments are based on diet and physical activity, but they are often complemented by medical treatments or bariatric surgery in severe cases. However, the current range of pharmacologic interventions and drugs available is sparse, has low efficacy, or causes side effects. It is therefore important that research focuses on the development of novel therapeutic approaches to prevent and/or treat obesity.
Researchers at the Biomedical Research Institute of Málaga and Nanomedicine Platform (IBIMA Plataforma BIONAND) have developed a technology that consists of a functionalized miRNA-based nanosystem for the treatment of obesity and associated type 2 diabetes through the conversion of fat from white into beige. This functionalized nanosystem has been called BRITE-A and it comprises:
- A biologically active molecule based on synthetic miRNA acting at the post-transcriptional regulatory level in adipose tissue.
- A nanoparticle consisting of gold with a lipophilic surfactant.
BRITE-A has been shown to selectively promote energy expenditure by inducing the thermogenic process called browning in WAT. These white adipocytes can be conversed into brite (brown-in-white) or beige adipocytes, metabolizing large amounts of glucose and fatty acids for heat production.
BRITE-A is in the lead optimization phase, which involves both in vitro and in vivo assays that assess drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) properties. Previous studies with murine models of obesity have confirmed that the nanosystem has blocked weight gain. Even if the mice continued to be fed a high-fat diet, they did not gain weight.
A Spanish Patent Application has been submitted in 2019 at the OEPM (Spanish Patent and Trademark Office). The patent has also been extended to national phases in Europe and United States. In addition, a new patent is in progress for a novel targeting system.
The proposed technology provides many benefits:
- It has good efficacy since it has been shown to reduce weight gain, improve insulin sensitivity and produce thermogenesis.
- Its high affinity in adipose tissue means that it does not damage other organs and can therefore be considered safe.
- To date, there is no accumulation of the nanoparticles in the tissues and no contraindications have been detected.
- The stability of BRITE-A has been confirmed for at least 30 days.
- Preparations for therapeutic use can be achieved in reduced time and cost because nanoparticles are required in very small concentrations.
- The method of administration is subcutaneous, which implies that the treatment is localized in a specific part, not systemic.
This nanosystem could have applications in several metabolic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes type II or insulin resistance, making it of great therapeutic interest.
The represented institution is looking for a collaboration that leads to commercial exploitation of the presented invention.
Protection status: Granted patent extended to national phases in Europe and United States
Contact: Noelia Mas / firstname.lastname@example.org