The National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) are in talks with Taiwanese companies to produce a unique nanomaterial found to reduce the side effects of obesity treatment drugs, an NHRI researcher said yesterday.
Lo Leu-wei (羅履維), an Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nanomedicine researcher, said that his team has developed a unique nanomaterial — using mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) — to reduce the side effects of lipase inhibitor-based obesity treatment medications.
The NHRI is in talks with three Taiwanese firms to mass produce MSNs, he said.
Calling obesity a disease of modern civilization, Lo, citing WHO data, said that obese people comprise 40 percent of the global population.
Health Promotion Administration data show that 26.7 percent of Taiwanese were classified as obese in 2018.
Obesity can cause many chronic diseases, making weight control one of the world’s most urgent health issues, he said.
Most diet pills on the market contain orlistat, a lipase inhibitor that reduces the degradation and absorption of gastrointestinal fat, resulting in excess fat being excreted from the large intestine.
Drugs such as orlistat are often associated with unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhea and oily stool, Lo said.
However, the high surface area of MSNs maximize their oil absorption and gelatinization capabilities, he said.
The silicon dioxide that comprises MSNs is also biocompatible, and has been widely utilized in food additives and as an antacid in gastrointestinal medications, he added.
These characteristics make MSNs attractive to use in conjunction with drugs such as orlistat, he said.
Once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, MSNs could be used as a part of combination therapy with orlistat or as a dietary supplement, he added.
The key concepts and technologies relevant to the creation of the nanomaterial have already won several awards in Taiwan and have been granted patent rights in Taiwan, Canada, China, the EU and the US.
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