The cell therapy researcher that can change “bad cells” to “good cells”
More and more people are suffering from metabolic disorders, ranging from obesity to diabetes. Although many drugs have been developed for these disorders, some of them have been associated with dangerous side-effects. Many scientists are working tirelessly to find better and safer medicine.
The search for Sibutramine alternatives
Around 2010, cell therapy researchers discovered that Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, was associated with increased cardiovascular events and strokes, and the medicine was withdrawn from the market. Subsequently, many scientists looking for alternatives set their sights on the fat cells themselves. There are two types of fat cells in the human body: white fat cells (the “bad” cells), which store energy, and brown fat cells (the “good” cells), which turn fat into energy. Dr. Li Jin, a young researcher from Fudan University, has found a peptide that can act on white fat cells to stimulate the expression of brown-fat-like activities in mice. This finding could lead to further clinical research for promising new medication to treat obesity.
Dr. Li is also working on turning non-insulin-secreting α cells into insulin-secreting β-like cells. This could bring renewed hope for patients with Type 1 diabetes.
Experience of a young researcher in the cell therapy field
Although Jin Li is still a young researcher, he has gained broad experience across Asia, Europe, and the US. After receiving a Master’s Degree from Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Li continued his research in Europe and received a Ph.D. from the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He was also a research fellow at Harvard Medical School before eventually returning to Fudan University in China. Li found significant differences between the various research environments: “The research center in Austria was not big, however, there was a very high level of collaboration among all researchers. There were 150 researchers in total. Everyone knew the other 149.” Li was very impressed by how efficient the center was. “Things in Harvard Medical School happen very fast. It was challenging for a researcher, but also good learning experience.” And recalling his experience in China, Li was struck by how much support junior researchers got from the authorities. “Young researchers don’t receive that level of support in the US”.
And how long does Li think it will take for his research to benefit patients with obesity and diabetes? Download Supertrends App to see Jin Li’s prediction regarding new treatments for obesity and Type 1 diabetes.