A pill to end obesity? Harvard researchers say it could happen

WASHINGTON — Forget the gym — Harvard University researchers are testing a pill that can help reduce the need for exercise and control obesity.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers say they have created a system with stem cells that can turn white, “bad” fat cells into brown, “good” fat cells. The brown fat cells burn more energy, and can actually help people lose weight.

“What we wanted to do is take the white fat no one wants, especially post-holidays, and turn it into the fat everyone wants, the brown fat,” senior author Chad Cowan said to Bloomberg.

Researchers say the development is “the first step toward a pill that can replace the treadmill.”

The early studies in mice suggest a pill could help people at serious risk drop pounds, which would help cut the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The researchers next will test the medicine on animals to see whether it produces the same metabolic changes seen in the early tests, Cowan said.

“We expect to have results fairly soon,” Cowan said in a news release. “The compounds appear to work the same way in mice, but we don’t know what the long-term metabolic or immune system effects are.”

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