Anti-obesity skin patch
NR Banner - Prof Chen Peng (left) holding the drug-laden microneedle fat burning patch with Asst Prof Xu Chenjie NTU Singapore

A research team in Singapore has successfully developed a skin patch made up of hundreds of micro-needles which will help people to lose lots of weight in a short time. The patch targets problem areas such as belly fat and is designed to cut down on adipose tissue formation toning down the stomach.

The new patch, developed by a team of scientists from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, resembles a small sticker and it contains thin hair-like needles that supply weight loss drugs to the body.

When the patch is applied for some time, the needles start degrading and the medicine keeps dissolving in the body. It works by breaking down energy-storing white adipose tissues (WAT) and changing them to calorie-burning brown fat, said researchers whose study was published in the journal Small Methods.

The study has been carried out on mice which were put on a high-fat diet and then given these patches. Within a month, they started showing 30 percent decrease in weight and mass and even the blood cholesterol and fatty acid levels in these mice showed a sharp decline.

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Study co-author Xu Chenjie noticed that the fat tissues surrounding the needles in the mice started becoming brown in five days and led to an overall reduction in body fat by increasing the energy expenditure of the body.

Further research is required, said researchers before marketing these weight-loss patches for humans but they are upbeat that this could be an easy and affordable way to combat obesity, which is a nightmare for around 650 million people around the globe, according to WHO's 2016 figures.

Unlike the conventional obesity drugs which have shown harmful side effects and drawbacks, this method of weight loss contains lesser amount of drug than in oral medicines or injections, hence reducing the cost as well as side-effects, said the team of Singapore researchers.

Currently, a prototype weight-loss patch costs about $3.50, but it will only be available to the public after it goes through all the clinical trials and inspections.