Refined sand particles have an anti-obesity effect, scientists confirm: ScienceAlert

Porous silica particles made from purified sand could one day play a role in weight loss efforts.

Previous clinical trials have already shown promising results, but the actual weight-loss mechanism behind the potential treatment is poorly understood.

To tease out the key variables, the researchers have already tested a range of sizes and shapes of silica in a simulation of the human gut after a heavy meal.

The results support the idea that porous silica can “impede the digestive processes” that are normally triggered by enzymes breaking down fats, cholesterol, starches and sugars in the stomach and intestines.

Moreover, the size of the administered nanoparticles appears to determine how much digestive activity is inhibited.

The authors acknowledge that their model is too simple to perfectly mimic the complexities of the human gut during digestion, but given the ethics surrounding human clinical trials, gut simulations and animal models are closer than researchers might expect. to receive otherwise.

Unlike other human gut models, this new one takes into account both fat digestion and carbohydrate digestion. The authors also analyzed the extent to which organic matter can be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

It’s possible that porous silica may cause a reduction in weight gain in other ways as well, but the new findings provide additional research with a more solid start.

In 2014, researchers found that mice on high-fat diets gained significantly less weight when fed porous silica nanoparticles (MSP). Their total body fat percentage was also reduced. However, this effect appears to be based on the relative size of the silicon particles used. Larger particles are ultimately more effective.

Subsequent studies in mice supported these results. The correct size and shape of porous silica particles appear to determine the strength of mouse digestion in the small intestine.

In 2020, the first clinical data in 10 healthy obese people showed that MSPs can reduce blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol levels, both of which are known risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular complications.

Even better, the treatment did not cause any abdominal discomfort or changes in bowel habits, which cannot be said for current weight gain drugs like Orlistat.

The present study elaborates on these promising findings by comparing an array of 13 porous silica samples with different widths, absorption potentials, shapes, sizes, and surface chemistries.

Each of these samples was introduced into a human gastrointestinal model that simulates the fed state after a high-carbohydrate, high-fat meal. The model allows half an hour of gastric digestion and one hour of intestinal digestion and absorption.

Fat digestion is monitored by titrating fatty acids from what is absorbed, while starch digestion is monitored by measuring the concentration of absorbed sugars.

The authors say that ideal silicon samples are silica microparticles with pore widths between 6 and 10 nanometers. These sizes seem to inhibit the enzymes best studied.

The pores don’t just seem to trap enzymes. It’s more complicated than that, the researchers believe.

Some pores that are optimally sized to inhibit starch digestion, for example, are too large to optimally trap enzymes involved in fat digestion.

Porous sand particles also appear to absorb digested and undigested nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract before they can pass into the bloodstream of the system.

This may be another way particles counteract calorie intake.

These particles with a larger surface area but smaller pores, unable to affect the digestive enzymes, actually absorbed the most organic matter in the models.

Further studies in animal models will be needed to replicate these results. Perhaps the proposed mechanism can then be validated in human clinical trials.

The study was published in Pharmaceuticals.

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