Shu Wang, associate professor in the Texas Tech Department of Nutritional Sciences, and her associates have received new funding to continue working toward a solution for nation-wide obesity.

Using nanotechnology, according to a Tech news release, they are not only attempting to prevent obesity but reverse it.  

The National Institutes of Health found that one-third of the American population is obese, according to the news release. Two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese.  

Fat is necessary for survival, but an excess of the wrong type of fat can cause people to gain unhealthy amounts of weight, according to the news release. Obesity is caused by an excess of adipose tissues, commonly referred to as fat.  

People have two types of fat within the body: brown fat and white fat, according to the news release. Brown adipose tissue is used for heat production and white adipose tissue holds energy.  

Adipose tissue consists of adipocytes, which are designed to store fat, according to the news release. Adipocytes found in brown adipose tissue can jump-start metabolism, burning unneeded fat and glucose in the body.

This makes them ideal subjects for research on obesity prevention and common complications that come with being overweight, such as dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases, according to the news release. Studies on resveratrol, a nutrient found in berries and the skin of red grapes, suggest that it can promote brown adipocyte formation in the body.

Originally, the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health awarded Wang’s Nutrition and Nanomedicine Laboratory with a four-year grant, according to the news release.  

Under this funding, Wang, Yujiao Zu, a graduate student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Zhaoyang Fan of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Ling Zhao of the University of Tennessee created nanoparticles that target subcutaneous adipose stromal cells and help the body absorb resveratrol more efficiently, according to the news release.  

The nanoparticles are biocompatible and have minimal side effects, unlike many of the current weight loss treatments, such as surgery and pharmacotherapy, according to the news release. Now, Wang and her associates, including Department of Nutritional Sciences chairman Nikhil Dhurandhar and assistant professor John Dawson, have received an additional grant from the NIH to further their research on ASC-targeting nanoparticles in relation to Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, according to the news release, the American Heart Association also gave Wang and biological sciences assistant professor Peter Keyel a two-year grant to study the effects of the nanoparticles on atherosclerosis and lipid metabolism.

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