Fat-burning molecule discovery may be an obesity treatment game-changer

A new study from Virginia Tech detailed the discovery of a molecule that can increase the amount of fat one's body burns without causing muscle loss or influencing how much food is consumed. The molecule paves the way for a future obesity and type-2 diabetes treatment, according to the researchers, who found that this molecule also decreases one's insulin resistance.

The research was published in notable scientific journal Nature Communications last month. The study details the discovery that BAM15, a small mitochondrial uncoupler, decreases body fat and insulin resistance, two things that contribute to obesity, type-2 diabetes, and the wider issues associated with metabolic dysfunction like fatty liver disease.

Put simply, mitochondrial uncouplers like BAM15 cause cells to burn more energy than is necessary, leading to fat loss. Chemistry professor Webster Santos explained, "Mitochondrial uncouplers are small molecules that go to the mitochondria to help the cells respire more. Effectively, they change metabolism in the cell so that we burn more calories without doing any exercise."

Using lab mice, the study evaluated BAM15 for potential toxicity and overall safety, finding that it is neither toxic nor does it have an impact on whether the subject feels more full or hungry than usual. While eating their usual amount of food, mice fed this molecule still lost body fat and this happened without any changes in body temperature.

The researchers have produced several hundred molecules related to BAM15 in an effort to tweak it for better results in humans. The molecule will need to stay in the body longer to be effective for burning fat, but the researchers aim to evolve this as an eventual treatment for humans.