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Could botanical extracts halt obesity epidemic?

Research groups Zen-Bio and Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) are to collaborate on a project designed to identify natural compounds that could prevent or treat obesity and metabolic disease, such as diabetes.

The initial phase of the programme will include screening of thousands of botanical extracts for their beneficial effects on primary human abdominal fat cells and adult stem cells.

"This programme gives us a unique opportunity to identify natural products that impact the function of human abdominal fat and the progression of metabolic disease", said Ben Buehrer, Vice President of North Carolina-based Zen-Bio.

"Both Zen-Bio and PBRC recognise the critical molecular differences between non-human and human tissue, and are diving right into human primary cell screening to eliminate costly artifacts. We also realise subcutaneous and abdominal fat have different roles in the progression of metabolic disease and are focusing on abdominal fat for that reason."

The Botanical Research Center at PBRC contains a library of botanical extracts, which researchers from Zen-Bio will examine with their human fat-derived stem cell screening system.

"This is exactly the kind of collaboration we hoped for when we started the Botanical Research Center," said William Cefalu, of PBRC, which is based in Louisiana. "One of our goals was to find and test promising botanicals that may be effective in treating obesity, and equally as important, preventing the progression to diabetes."

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