Nano-based pill could reduce fat and sugar in food

Researchers at Hebrew University and Harvard University have developed dietary supplement that can reduce amount of fat absorption in body.

May 24, 2011 03:41
2 minute read.
[illustrative photo]

obese people large fat 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)


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In the future, you could be able to have your sweet, fattening cake and eat it, too, all without risking your health.

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University in Boston have developed a nano-complex dietary supplement that can be taken before meals to substantially reduce the amount of fat and sugar your body absorbs.

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This is the first demonstration that a dietary supplement can change the way the body reacts beneficially to a meal. The discovery is detailed in an article that has just been published in the US scientific journal, PLoS One.

The researchers worked previously on naringenin, the molecule responsible for the bitter taste in grapefruit, which is poorly absorbed by the body when in its natural form. As they thought it could potentially be used in the treatment of diabetes, arteriosclerosis and hyper-metabolism, they thought of adapting it as a nano-complex and succeeded by multiplying the absorption capacity of naringenin 11 times.

The joint university team, headed by Dr. Yaakov Nahmias of the HU’s Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science, and his graduate student Maria Shulman, have now created the nano-complex within a ring of sugar that is called cyclodextrin, which makes the molecule much more effective. Fortunately, when the molecule is turned into cyclodextrin, it becomes sweet; thus, naringenin is no longer a bitter pill to swallow.

By testing the product on rats, they found that a single dose of this complex, taken just before a high-fat and high-sugar meal, was able to reduce the generation of VLDL (bad cholesterol) by 42 percent, which is good for people at risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also increase insulin sensitivity by 64%, which is good for diabetics.

“The complex is special in that it is taken just before a meal as a preventative measure,” said Nahmias. “In comparison, existing medications are given only after chronic development of abnormal lipid levels in the blood.”


Patents for the development have been applied for by Harvard and Yissum, HU’s technology transfer company.

Clinical tests are now under way in the US.

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