New patch to control overweight and obesity

13/01/2021

Researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) developed a gel and a transdermal patch of prolonged release, which contain caffeine and which serves to contribute to diminishing overweight and obesity in the Mexican population. The product is in the process of being patented.

According to UNAM, it is important to attack these problems from the medical point of view, since new generations already present these diseases from very early ages. Besides, the situation has repercussions on both the health system and the nation's economy.

The national scenario

In Mexico, seven out of ten adults suffer from overweight and obesity, conditions that could trigger chronic-degenerative diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, according to the National Health and Nutrition Survey, Ensanut 2018, explained José Juan Escobar Chávez, a researcher from the Cuautitlán School of Higher Studies (FES).

The gel

"Caffeine is present in the coffee we drink on a regular basis, and it has a lipolytic effect (ability to dissolve or decompose fat at certain doses); and the formula proposed by the university students is in gel, contained in a patch, because through the skin the indispensable amount of that substance could be absorbed to achieve the expected effect," explained Escobar, also responsible for laboratory 12, Transdermal Systems, of the multidisciplinary unit.

He said that they have already made the mechanical characterization of the patch, and the physicochemistry of the gel, in addition to the in vitro permeability studies. And he clarified that these options are only a coadjutant in the control of overweight and obesity, but equally, it is indispensable to implement an adequate diet and physical activity to avoid these pathologies.

The patch

UNAM explained that the patch is a transdermal film, similar to capsules containing medicine. It is a kind of bubble with a gel, and on top of that, it has a permeable plate that adheres to the skin and allows the drug to pass through. And it should be placed in the areas of the body where there is no excessive hair, such as the forearm, lumbar region, and abdomen.

About the researchers

The scientists already have the formulation and optimization of both systems; of the patch, they made tests to determine its size and the therapeutic dose to reach the desired effect. And the research (projects PAPIIT IG100220 and PAPIME PE 201420) is part of the thesis work of Gabriela Hernández Vázquez and Fernando Juárez Lazcano, students of the degree in Pharmacy.