But why is the proposed method better and innovative than already existing anti-obesity drugs? Considering that L-menthol is a natural substance already present in many market products, the proposed treatment will provide a natural, healthy, and practical way to increase the energy spent by an individual. Unlike existing anti-obesity drugs, the proposed treatment will not interfere with the normal physiological function of the human body. It will merely help it increase its BAT activation – a goal proclaimed beneficial by all medical and scientific studies published to date. Being an energy consuming tissue, BAT will utilize increased amounts of energy every day helping the individual to control his/her weight balance.
Overall objective: The nanoBAT project will create an effective intersectoral co-operation to advance the concept of nanostructured delivery-L-menthol system for brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation. This objective will be achieved the accomplishment of the following specific sub-objectives:
- Ensure a high degree of collaboration between academic and industrial organizations: Networking Activities.
- Go beyond the current state of the art: Researcher & Training Activities.
- Increase intersectoral transfer of knowledge: Workshop Activities.
- Ensure high level of innovation capacity: Innovation Activities.
- Ensure communication to the scientific community and to the public: Dissemination and Outreach Activities.
Innovation Outcomes: Obesity and its related disorders are a major global health concern. The relatively recent discovery of brown adipose tissue in adult humans has provoked a plethora of theories and experiments on the metabolic capabilities of brown adipose tissue and its potential for the prevention and/or treatment of obesity and obesity-associated diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several cancers. Brown adipose tissue is located in the thorax and its main function is non-shivering thermogenesis, that is, generate heat to maintain body temperature during exposure to cold. This process utilizes high amounts of energy. Thus, increasing the activity of an individual's brown adipose tissue activity has enormous value for weight management and predisposition to cardio-metabolic disease. It is also critical for treating patients suffering from thyroid, metabolic and thermoregulatory abnormalities. Thus the innovative aspects of the nanoBAT, in terms of new products, processes and bioengineering applications are significant since it will revolutionise the global anti-obesity products market that is currently estimated at 50 billion euros.
Project Viability: The activation of BAT using nanotechnology approaches has been largely ignored thus far. This is because relevant R&D attempts were led by either the public or the private sector alone but never by a joint-venture of the two. As a result, academic organizations have faced challenges in finding the right application for the consumer market, while SMEs have been struggling to find the resources to conduct the necessary state of the art research. Innovation is increasingly dependent on the complementary knowledge and skills of different actors. Hence, co-operation and knowledge transfer are crucial for competitiveness in transforming ideas into innovative products. The nanoBAT Consortium is composed of complementary organizations with adequate financial, technical and management abilities for the successful implementation of this project. The five nanoBAT participants have 20+ years of expertise in chemistry, nano-materials, toxicology, pharmacology, physiology, molecular biology, business, operational management, marketing, product implementation and commercialization. They have been active in in-vitro systems and in-vivo animal model research as well as in the development, implementation and launch into the market of pharmaceutical products. Finally, they have participated in previous knowledge transfer programme funded by the European Commission (EC).
Innovation Outcomes, Originality and Credibility: The development of a nanostructured L-menthol-delivery system for BAT activation will be a significant milestone in nanotechnology development. More importantly, the employment of such devices will result in heavy BAT activation and efficient body weight loss (because of the important key roles of this tissue in both thermoregulation and metabolism) improving existing application in obesity and cardio-metabolic diseases treatments. Thus the innovative aspects of nanoBAT in terms of new products, processes and applications are significant. Delivering the L-menthol specifically to TRPM8 and avoiding its conversion to metabolites, nanostructured L-menthol-delivery system can stimulate BAT activation more efficiently than other existing methodologies. This is because these delivery systems offer great advantages in carrying oral drug and improve its stability under extreme pH conditions and bioavailability across the gastrointestinal mucosa. The applications of these delivery systems are vast, ranging from obesity and weight control, diabetes, cardio-metabolic diseases and thermogenesis.
“This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation
programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 691061”