Purified sand particles have anti-obesity effects, scientists confirm: ScienceAlert

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

Previous clinical trials have already produced promising results, but the actual weight reduction mechanism behind the potential treatment has been poorly understood.

To sift through key variables, researchers have now tested a range of sizes and shapes of silica in a simulation of the human intestine after a heavy meal.

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

In addition, the size of the nanoparticles administered seems to determine the degree of inhibition of digestive activity.

The authors acknowledge that their model is far too simple to perfectly mimic the complexity of the human gut during digestion, but given the ethics surrounding human clinical trials, gut simulations and animal models are closer than the researchers realize. could get it otherwise.

Unlike other human gut models, this new model accounts for both fat digestion and carbohydrate digestion. The authors also analyzed the degree to which organic matter could be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

It’s possible that porous silica triggers reduced weight gain in other ways as well, but the new findings provide further research with a stronger starting point.

In 2014, researchers found that mice on a high-fat diet gained significantly less weight when fed porous silica nanoparticles (MSPs). Their percentage of total body fat was also reduced. Yet this effect appeared to be based on the relative size of the silica particles used. Larger particles were ultimately more effective.

Follow-up studies in mice confirmed these results. The correct size and shape of the porous silica particles seemed to determine the digestive power of the mouse in the small intestine.

In 2020, early clinical data on 10 healthy humans with obesity demonstrated that MSPs can reduce blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels, both of which are known risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular complications.

Best of all, the treatment did not cause any abdominal discomfort or change in bowel habits, which cannot be said of current weight gain drugs like Orlistat.

The current research elaborates on these promising findings by comparing a set of 13 porous silica samples of varying widths, absorption potentials, shapes, sizes, and surface chemistries.

These samples were each fed into a human gastrointestinal model that simulated a fed state after a meal high in carbohydrates and fats. The model allowed half an hour of gastric digestion and one hour of intestinal digestion and absorption.

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

The authors say the ideal silica samples were silica microparticles with pore widths between 6 and 10 nanometers. These sizes seemed to inhibit the best examined enzymes.

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

Some pores that were the optimal size to inhibit starch digestion, for example, were too large to optimally trap enzymes associated with fat digestion.

The porous sand particles also appeared to absorb digested and undigested nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract before they could pass into the system’s bloodstream.

This could be another way for particles to counter calorie intake.

Those particles with larger surface areas but smaller pores unable to impact digestive enzymes actually absorbed the most organic matter in the models.

Further research in animal models will be needed to replicate these results. Perhaps after that, the proposed mechanism can be validated in human clinical trials.

The study was published in Pharmacy.

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