Micro-needle skin patch is a futuristic treatment for diabetes and obesity

Researchers have detailed a new potential treatment option for diabetes and obesity, one that requires wearing a patch containing 'microneedles.' These micro-needles are exactly they sound like — very small needles that pierce the skin to deliver medication to the patient. The patch was created by researchers with the University of North Carolina and Columbia University Medical Center.

Based just on the image above, the patch seems like some type of medical treatment from the future, but it only gets more intriguing from there. While diet and exercise aren't able to 'spot treat' fat – that is, eliminate it from just one part of the body – this micro-needle patch can. It works by converting white fat to brown fat, which burns energy.

This conversion apparently takes place in the part of the body where the patch is located, meaning it could (assuming it proves effective for humans) be used to treat the small pockets of fat that people typically get liposuction treatment for. Even better and more importantly, the patch could serve as a future treatment for metabolic conditions or diabetes.

Treatments that aim to turn white fat into brown fat aren't entirely new, but they presently exist in the form of pills or injections. This patch is different, administering the drugs over time to the fat tissue. Local administration like this could potentially solve the issue of unwanted side effects such as nausea that may arise from pills.

The skin patch shown in the video above measures only 1 centimeter across, and it is equipped with a drug that is first treated with nanoparticles. The patch doesn't cause pain when put onto a patient's skin, where it then delivers the drugs over time. Testing of the patch was performed using CL316243 and rosiglitazone.

Mice treated with the patch experienced 20-percent localized fat loss and lower glucose levels. Human trials haven't happened, though, and we're likely a long way from seeing these types of patches prescribed to patients. In the meantime, though, exposing yourself to cold seems to hold some promise.

SOURCE: Columbia University