How can sugars be chemically-treated to make them safe for consumers?
A new sugar chemical formula developed by researchers in the US and UK has been approved for use in cosmetics, in a move that could help curb the rise of childhood obesity.
A study published in the journal Nature Medicine has found that the use of a chemical peel in the form of a sugar syrup called acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene (ABS) reduced the accumulation of fat cells in mice.
The scientists believe that the new sugar formulation will be particularly beneficial for the treatment of obesity in children, who are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes.
The study involved mice with metabolic syndrome, a chronic condition that causes high blood pressure, obesity and metabolic complications.
The researchers, led by Professor Brian Murphy from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, used an acrylorid-based extract of the sugar Cinnamomum cassia to remove fat cells and improve blood sugar control.
“The results are promising because they demonstrate the ability of these compounds to reduce adiposity and cardiovascular disease risk factors in mice,” said Dr Murphy.
The research is the first to show that the extract could reduce obesity and cardiovascular risk factors by inhibiting the production of fat.
“In the future, this technology may be used in the development of novel drugs and treatments that will target adiposity or cardiovascular risk, and will also potentially improve metabolic health,” he said.
Professor Murphy said that the method could be applied to any type of chemical or biological process.
“It could be used for the production and application of liposomes, biosynthesis of bioproducts, biosynthetic enzymes, or to extract biological products like amino acids, peptides, polysaccharides, sugars, amino acids from biomass, plant or animal materials, or natural compounds,” he added.
“We’re looking forward to working with the pharmaceutical and industrial industries to commercialise this technology and hopefully help improve the health of children in the future.”
He said that other studies in mice had shown that the chemical peel was effective at reducing triglyceride levels and triglyceride accumulation.
Professor Alan Brown, from the School of Medical Science at the University at Adelaide, said the new research was an important first step.
“This is the biggest advance in the area of using acrylamide to treat obesity and diabetes,” he told ABC News.
“If this goes to clinical trials, it could be a very promising treatment for these children, particularly as it has the potential to be effective in other chronic diseases.”
Dr Brown said that in addition to the potential benefits of the new product, it also raised the prospect of the use in people with obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other conditions.
“Acrylamides are one of the first-line drugs in the treatment for metabolic syndrome,” he explained.
“They’ve shown some promising results in the animal models, but we need to find more clinical studies to confirm these results in people.”
The research was funded by the Australian Government.