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New ‘Fat-finder’ holds out hope of fat-busting drugs

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Monday, July 19th, 2010

As reported in Israel 21C: A new fat-finding tool from Israel attached to a microscope can speed up research into obesity-busting drugs and save researchers time and money.

By understanding how drugs affect fat cells, researcher Prof. Amit Gefen hopes to be able to help speed up research into fat-busting drugs for the obese.

Scientists in Israel have developed a ‘fat-finder’ that can help to accelerate the study of new fat-melting drugs. The microscope-based cell scanner devised by Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers in tissue engineering can measure a broad number of variables in the way that drugs affect fat cells. It should speed up research into fat-busting drugs and could have additional uses for drug development and therapy in a variety of other fields as well.

“Good for studying fat, the ‘fat-finder’ is a general purpose tool that can also save researchers time and money,” says the tool’s inventor, Prof. Amit Gefen of TAU’s Faculty of Engineering. He says that he also hopes to devise better injury prevention and treatment regimes for paraplegics with his new technology.

The software-based tool, reported on in a recent issue of the journal, Tissue Engineering, fits onto a microscope like a pair of goggles and allows a scientist to measure a broad number of physical parameters in the Petri dish, while investigating fat cells.

They might explore how fat cells change when given insulin, or how they react when treated with new experimental drug compounds. Normally these kinds of questions need to be investigated with intensive pre-clinical and clinical trials – an expensive and time-consuming process.

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