Researchers discovering the mechanics of fat

The "Holy Grail for weight loss researchers," according to a scientist at Tel Aviv University, is understanding how to control the amount of fat produced by fat cells. The scientist, Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biomedical Engineering, believes he is hot on the Grail's trail with a new method to look at how fat cells respond to mechanical loads.

His research is driven by the theory that fat cells, like bone or muscle cells, are influenced by mechanical loads, defined as the amount of force or deformation placed on a particular area occupied by cells. By recreating the structure of fat cells using a newly developed computer method, Gefen and his team of researchers can determine how much mechanical load can be tolerated by fat cells, and at what point the cells will begin to disintegrate.

Gefen and his group assembling "virtual" fat cells and discovered at what point mechanical loads can disintegrate them, as well as a point at which they are able to resist disintegration.

The research, recently reported in the Journal of Biomechanics, has direct applications in weight loss programs, the treatment of bedsores and the management of chronic diabetes, according to the researchers.

- read the Tel Aviv University release