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Weight Loss Breakthrough: Researchers "Activate" Fat-Burning Cells

DIE WELT (Germany), NATURE COMMUNICATIONS(UK)

Worldcrunch

BONN - The equivalent of pressing a button that activates your body’s fat-burning mechanism...and watch the pounds disappear. It sounds like advertising hype, but researchers at the University of Bonn and their colleagues at Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices believe it may be revolutionize the approach to weight-loss.

In studies on lab mice, the researchers found a way of taking those pesky white fat cells responsible for turning excess food into ugly (and unhealthy) rolls around the middle and converting them into brown fat cells – the ones that make heat for the body.

Researchers working with Alexander Pfeifer, Director of the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn, reported on their findings in the online journal Nature Communications.

The scientists studied the gene-regulating micro-RNA 155 in mice that inhibits a certain transcription factor that controls brown fat cell function.

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source: bigplankton

“Professor Pfeifer and his team found that the transcription factor also regulates the levels micro-RNA 155 establishing a tight feed-back loop that works like a toggle switch: when the micro-RNA is highly expressed brown fat cell differentiation is blocked; conversely, if the transcription factor wins the upper hand, brown fat is produced at an increased level and this in turn boosts fat burning in the body,” a university press release said.

The researchers have indications that their findings in mice will also apply to humans, and see the results as a “potential starting point for drugs to combat obesity,” Die Welt reports.

“However, we are still in the basic research stage,” Professor Pfeifer said, adding that “the path to suitable drugs is still a long one.”

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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