The use of neuron-targeted polymeric nanomedicine could reduce hunger and obesity, says UIC Barcelona

This was shown in the study led by Dr Rosalía Rodríguez, co-head of the University’s Neurolipid Research Group (UIC, International University of Catalonia), in collaboration with Dr Sabina Quader, researcher at the Innovation Center of NanoMedicine at Kawasaki (Japan), as well as researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB).

The study, which was published a few months ago in the journal Biomaterials Science with in vitro results, now confirms, after in vivo animal testing, that these nanoparticles capable of releasing drugs that inhibit the CPT1A protein could contribute to reducing obesity.

Rodríguez explained that to conduct the study, polymeric nanoparticles were designed that encapsulate drugs capable of inhibiting an enzyme involved in neuronal lipid metabolism, and it was proven both in cell models (2D and 3D cultures) and in animal testing (mice) that the nanoparticles had a greater ability to enter neurons compared to the free drug. “These nanomedicines are used to specifically target neurons of interest, release the drug and they significantly reduce intake, stimulate energy expenditure and reduce body weight in animals.”

According to the researcher, another benefit of these nanomedicines is the significant improvement in metabolic indicators in the liver and brown adipose tissue, which indicates that this is a new generation of therapies to deal with pathologies such as obesity.

Previous studies by the group have shown that specific inhibition of CPT1A in hypothalamus neurons reduces hunger and favours weight loss. The group only had to design a strategy that would selectively block CPT1A in the hypothalamus neurons, without affecting other tissues and to manage underlying obesity.

Development of nanotechnology has opened the door to a wide range of applications in different areas of medicine. In this sense, Rodríguez emphasises that this nanoparticle-based therapeutic target inhibition could also serve in the future to treat brain cancers such as glioblastoma, type 2 diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease.

The Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain) is a private non-profit institution that was set up by the Catalan Family Foundation, and officially founded in 1997.

At UIC Barcelona they currently have more than 4.000 students and teach a total of 16 university degree programmes. The degree studies are complemented by a large number of master’s, postgraduate, and doctoral degrees and continuing education courses that allow students to achieve deeper learning and specialise in different areas of knowledge.

UIC Barcelona’s 8 faculties are distributed over two campuses.

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