Obesity cure found in sand? Australian scientists discover particles that could block fats, carbs

ADELAIDE, Australia — Future obesity therapies may feel like a day at the beach. Scientists at the University of South Australia have engineered particles of purified sand that may very well be the next big anti-obesity treatment. This latest research uncovered that porous silica particles can block the body from adsorbing fats and carbohydrates.

These engineered silica particles are constructed using purified sand, and expertly put together with a high surface area. This optimal design allows them to soak up significant amounts of digestive enzymes, fats, and sugars in the gastrointestinal tract.

Funded by the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation and developed in partnership with Glantreo Limited, this research and the resulting new silica-based therapy is the first ever to validate that porous silica particles are capable of hindering digestive processes and stopping fat and sugar adsorption. The new therapy will offer patients a gentler experience for their stomachs and fewer of the unpleasant side-effects often associated with Orlistat, the leading mainstream anti-obesity drug.

Lead researcher Dr. Paul Joyce of UniSA explains that this discovery could change the lives and health outcomes of billions of people living with obesity.

Obesity is a global issue that affects more than 1.9 billion people worldwide,” Dr. Joyce says in a university release. “Despite this, there is a current lack of effective therapies that are free from adverse effects – such as diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain — which often deters people from starting a treatment.”

“Porous silica has received increasing attention for its anti-obesity potential, with human trials showing it is a safe therapy. However, exactly how it works has eluded researchers — until now,” the researcher continues. “Our research shows how porous silica promotes an anti-obesity effect by functioning locally in the gut to restrict fat and carbohydrate digestion and absorption.”

Sand may help prevent several obesity-related diseases

Crucially, Dr. Joyce adds the gentle mechanism should deliver clinically effective weight loss outcomes without any of the adverse side-effects.

Obesity is a well-known risk factor when it comes to serious health conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. It can also contribute to higher death rates. This in-vitro study analyzed multiple silica samples under simulated conditions that re-created or mimicked the gastrointestinal environment while digesting a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal.

Study authors found that porous silica particles with pore widths between six and 10 nanometers were ideal for triggering an inhibitory response to both fats and sugars.

“This research has identified defined parameters for porous silica to enact anti-obesity effects,” Dr. Joyce concludes. “The next steps are to validate these findings with animal models of obesity so that we can determine any variations for optimal anti-obesity conditions. Obesity is a completely preventable disease. This is a massive step to tackle one of the world’s most prevent health conditions.”

The study is published in the journal Pharmaceutics.

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