Gold nanoparticles may be used to melt away fat


June 20, 2014

There's gold in that thar belly – or at least there might soon be, if a new form of liposuction sees the light of day (Photo: Shutterstock)

There's gold in that thar belly – or at least there might soon be, if a new form of liposuction sees the light of day (Photo: Shutterstock)

Liposuction may be a popular method of instant body fat reduction, but it certainly isn't perfect. Patients can experience bruising, there can be lumps that have to be addressed with a second procedure, plus things other than fat cells – such as connective tissue and nerves – can inadvertently also get removed. Two researchers, however, are developing what could be a better form of liposuction, that involves first using injected gold microparticles to melt the fat.

The technique was conceived by University of California, San Diego nanomedicine expert Adah Almutairi, and her brother Khalid who is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. They were inspired by earlier research in which injected gold nanoparticles were drawn specifically to cancer cells, then heated up using near-infrared light to effectively "cook" those cells while leaving others unharmed.

The Almutairis believe that something similar could be done to fat cells.

In their process, gold nanoparticles would first be injected into fat deposits in a patient's body. Those areas would then be subjected to near-infrared light, causing the particles to heat up. Because of fat's relatively low melting temperature, the fat in the deposits would liquify before any harm could occur to other cells.

A liposuction needle could then be inserted and used to simply suck out the melted fat and the nanoparticles. In traditional liposuction, the needle is scraped back and forth through solid fat, breaking it up while also vacuuming it out.

Animal trials are now underway, with the possibility of human trials later this year. The technology is being developed by startup firm eLux Medical, and is called NanoLipo.

An article on the research was recently published in Chemical & Engineering News.

Source: American Chemical Society

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Ahh, the smell of burning fat.


ooops, there goes the myelin!!! yeah but LET THEM EAT GOLD has such a nice sound to it!

Walt Stawicki

Why suck out the fat? Wouldn't the body process it out as dead cell? Unless it is to retrieve the gold nanoparticlesfor reuse.sounds like an unnecessary operation .


Stop eating so much Mc'Donalds and carbs and you won't be so fat. Give me more carbs, and I will get fat. Been there done that. Go on a caveman diet. Why goldnano particles. Safety regulations over nanoparticles are non existent or is still in its infancy. This is just a workaround and the wrong way to tackle this problem.


Man, I wish one could post images to these comments! This one: was the first one to come to mind, reading xdigitor's post ☺

On the cancer war-front, what is the status of Kanzius' method of using radio frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the particles? I'd think that would be a far better/safer means than the higher wavelengths of near-infrared...

Also, how do they intend to target the fat cells of a particular region of the body? No mention of special protein receptors or the like...

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