Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center say that a protein known as a helper for bone growth can also help develop brown fat, a “good” fat that helps in the expenditure of energy and fighting obesity.
“Obesity …impacts the risk and prognosis of many diseases,” said Yu-Hua Tseng, Ph.D. an Assistant Investigator in the Joslin Section on Obesity and Hormone Action and lead author of the paper published in Nature.
Obesity, one of the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes, is also linked to the metabolic syndrome, heart attacks and stroke. Tseng and her colleagues have now identified a bone-inducing protein called BMP-7 which helps trigger the formation and function of mature brown fat cells.
“Brown fat cells largely disappear by adulthood in humans, but their precursors still remain in the body,” Tseng explained.
Scientists hope that improved knowledge of fat development will lead to new or therapeutic approaches to fight obesity. The current recommended approach for type 2 diabetes prevention includes a healthy weight loss program or diabetes prevention program. However, for people genetically predisposed to obesity, results can be often more difficult to achieve than the general population.