The patches were tested on mice and researchers reported their fat was reduced by 20 percent when using the device.
Doctors say it could soon be used to treat obesity and diabetes after successful trials in mice.
Experiments on mice at Columbia University Medical Centre revealed that drugs converting surplus white fat into energy-burning brown fat could be successfully targeted via patches. Researchers explain that humans have two types of fat: white fat, which stores excess energy in triglyceride droplets, and brown fat, which are smaller in size and are burned to produce heat for the body. We're all born with higher levels of brown fat to protect us from the cold, but we lose it as we age (unless we live in colder climates). But by adulthood, most brown fat is lost.
Losing those love handles is set to be a whole heap easier, with American researchers working on a skin patch that can literally melt fat.
Drugs are available to promote this process, called browning, but they must be given as pills or injections, which exposes the body to side effects such as stomach upset, weight gain and bone fractures, Dr. Qiang said.
The new skin patch works differently in that it delivers most drugs directly to the fat tissue, which alleviates complications.
By differentiate, the skin patch goes around these entanglements by conveying the medications specifically to the locale required, for example, the territories of tissue over the hips.
"The nanoparticles were meant to adequately hold the medication and afterward continuously crumple, discharging it into close-by tissue sustainedly as opposed to spreading the medication all through the body rapidly", Professor Zhen Gu, of the University of North Carolina, who co-wrote the examination. They're then loaded into a tiny, centimeter-square skin patch with a surface of dozens of microscopic needles, that sink into the skin (painlessly, the news release is careful to point out), and deliver the drugs to the underlying tissue. They were placed on either side of the lower abdomen, and new patches were applied every three days for a total of four weeks. Control mice were also given two empty patches.
Tests in normal, lean mice revealed that treatment with either of the two drugs increased the animals' oxygen consumption (a measure of overall metabolic activity) by about 20 percent compared with untreated controls.
Upon conducting genetic analyses, the researchers likewise found that the treated side had more genes linked to brown fat, suggesting that the "melting" of fat can be attributed to the browning process.
Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles.
It also has promise as a treatment for metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity.
The patch has not been tested in humans.