Stem cell discovery identifies potential obesity treatment

The silhouette of Dr. Michael Rudnicki falls on a backdrop as he talks to the media about recent stem cell research developments at the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital.

Credits: Jason Ransom


Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute say they have discovered a trigger that turns muscle stem cells into brown fat, a form of good fat that could play a critical role in the fight against obesity.

"This discovery significantly advances our ability to harness this good fat in the battle against bad fat and all the associated health risks that come with being overweight and obese," Dr. Michael Rudnicki, a senior scientist at the Institute, said in a statement Tuesday.

The research team say mice that were injected with an agent to reduce a gene regulator called miR-133 produced more brown fat, were protected from obesity and had an improved ability to process glucose.

"There are still many questions to be answered, such as: 'Will it help adults who are already obese to lose weight? How should it be administered? How long do the effects last? Are there adverse effects we have not observed yet?,'" Rudnicki said.

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