Science

What is brown adipose tissue?​

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also called brown fat, is responsible for non-shivering thermogenesis. It is an endocrine organ that plays a key role in glucose and lipid metabolism by consuming fatty acids and glucose and regulating energy homeostasis.

Having just the right quantity of active BAT is very important for human health. Too little or too much BAT results in metabolic imbalance. Having too little of it can lead to obesity and metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, too much BAT results in increased energy expenditure, leading to cachexia in patients with cancer and chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and others.

Today, there are no products or methods approved for non-invasive detection of BAT. 

Such a product would enable development of new therapies for obesity and diabetes. It would also enable detection and treatment of cachexia at a very early stage before quality of life and life expectancy of patients are negatively impacted.

 

What is cachexia?

Cachexia is a complex syndrome mainly characterized by body weight loss, muscle wasting, and metabolic abnormalities. It affects 50 – 80% of cancer patients and accounts for about 20% of cancer deaths. Cachexia affects also patients with other chronic diseases.

The major symptoms include anorexia, anemia, asthenia and fatigue, further impairing patient quality of life. In addition, cachexia is associated with decreased anticancer treatment tolerance and effectiveness, resulting in reduced survival.

Every year, 3 million patients die because of cachexia and not their primary disease. Today, it takes up to 1 year to diagnose this fatal condition because no diagnostics for early detection exist.

What can we see with ImageBAT

®?

ImageBAT® detects brown adipose tissue and also browned white fat, called beige fat, which plays a role in cachexia. After activation of browning of white adipose tissue (WAT), all areas of newly formed beige fat can be visualised and quantified using ImageBAT® technology.