A tummy patch that could stop people from gaining fat has been developed by scientists.

Researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have created a prototype skin patch containing hundreds of micro-needles loaded with weight-loss drugs.

The drugs ADRB3 and T3 triiodothyronine are already being used to treat obesity, but the team believe their new approach to “reducing bulging tummy fats” could be a cost-effective way to treat the disease.

Xu Chenjie, an assistant professor at NTU Singapore, said: “The amount of drugs we used in the patch is much less than those used in oral medication or an injected dose.

Scientists invent tummy patch.
Scientists have invented a new microneedle fat-burning patch that they believe could help tackle obesity (NTU Singapore)

“This lowers the drug ingredient costs while our slow-release design minimises its side effects.”

The drugs work by breaking down white fats, which are energy-storing, to brown fats, which are energy-burning.

Tests on mice showed fats to be browning in five days and experiments showed that over a four-week period, mice that were fed a high-fat diet showed a reduction of fat mass by over 30%.

The rodents were also found to have significantly lower blood cholesterol and fatty acids levels compared to the untreated mice.

Scientists invent tummy patch.
The new approach to reducing bulging tummy fats has shown promise in laboratory trials (NTU Singapore)

Prof Chenjie said: “With the embedded microneedles in the skin of the mice, the surrounding fats started browning in five days, which helped to increase the energy expenditure of the mice, leading to a reduction in body fat gain.”

The next step will be to develop patches that can be safely used by humans.

Professor Chen Peng, of NTU Singaore, added: “What we aim to develop is a painless patch that everyone could use easily, is unobtrusive and yet affordable.”

The research is published in the journal Small Methods.