Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
Our Nanowerk-exclusive feature articles
Posted: Apr 1st, 2009
Nanotechnology miracle drug for weight loss
(Nanowerk Spotlight) Not surprisingly, it has been scientists in The Netherlands - a country that has long been conducting large-scale and long-term field studies on the benefits of certain plants to mental and physical health (scientists refer to this effort as the “great coffee house smoke screen studies”) – that have come up with a nanotechnology discovery that could well revolutionize many consumer products from food to toys.
In a report released today, April 1, the Dutch scientists report that a nanoparticulate substance found in Cannabis sativa, also know as marijuana, has an amazing ability to kill fat cells in the human body.
“After we discovered these amazing nanoparticles, which we tentatively have termed “splifferenes”, we ran a series of tests to identify the most beneficial uptake route into the human body,” Arry van Dope tells Nanowerk. “We were a bit surprised that splifferenes retain their full effectiveness to destroy both white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT) only in aerosol form. This means that inhalation appears to be the most effective way of benefiting from this amazing substance.”
Splifferenes' amazing physical and chemical properties make them suitable for a wide variety of industrial applications. For instance, they are water-soluble and therefore can easily be added to all kinds of food. Their physical toughness and high melting point means they can be applied in nanofabrication techniques like atomic layer deposition or spin-coating and applied as an ultra thin, only one atom layer thick coating to any product.
Molecular structure of splifferenes. This image shows the actual colors under an electron microscope.
As far as physiological implications are concerned, Splifferenes start their beneficial work immediately after they get into the bloodstream. Basically, that means that as soon as you drink, chew, smoke or lick any substance that is enriched with splifferenes, your body starts destroying fat cells – so effectively you will begin loosing weight immediately.
Hoping to ride an early wave of commercialization, the Dutch research group has already filed for patent protection and registered the trademark ”Royal Spliffmeister Edition” for a range of planned products.
An early adaptor of emerging technology, the adult industry is jumping on the commercial opportunities that splifferene coatings could offer for adult toys. Firms are falling over themselves in securing licensing rights for the new coatings, and licking their lips in anticipation of a new generation of nanotechnology enabled toys.
The hot new industry’s insider website Nanofetish.com reports that a prototype pocket rocket called “Deep Coat” is the first product using a strawberry flavored splifferene thin-film coating. Tom Peeping, the site’s editor, is convinced that nanotechnology will quickly penetrate all areas of adult entertainment paraphernalia. “Can you imagine” he says, “all these gorgeous stars in our industry never having to go on a diet again? We have calculated that during an average workday with the usual activities, an actress would consume enough of these nano thingies to burn off an extra 2,500 calories!” He also announed the first movie featuring splifferene products – "Thong with a Bong" – to be released in the summer.
Moving over to the neighboring film industry, Hollywood is abuzz with gossip about which stars already have undergone nanosculpting. This experimental new cosmetic procedure uses subdermal injections of concentrated splifferene solutions to eliminate undesired body fat anywhere on the body. “Has she been nano’d?” is has become an often heard question at LA parties these days. Since it leaves no scars and works within minutes this treatment appears to be the holy grail that aging film stars having been waiting for. And you know that once Hollywood stars have adopted something it won’t be long before it hits the mainstream.
The nanotechnology community is so enthusiastic about possible revolutionary breakthrough products that for instance the Project for Exposing Nanostuff (PEN) has announced a new category called “NanoHigh” in its nanomaterial database, which just celebrated its 50,000th entry (an amazing shape-shifting diaper with super soaky and aroma enhanced nanofiber coatings and thin-film based acoustic alarm). The NanoHigh category will include mood enhancing and stimulating botanical and pharmaceutical nanoproducts.
“We are rigorously testing these products ourselves before we include them in our database,” a lead scientist at PEN tells Nanowerk. PEN has invited Nanowerk staff to participate in some of these highly scientific tests and we will report about the results in an upcoming Nanowerk Spotlight (tentatively titled “The highs and lows of nanotechnology”).
Not to be outdone, the Institute for Cool Nanotechnology (ICON) has convened an international group to assess cultural impacts of splifferene-based materials and products. A two-day workshop in May is designed to engage an international, multidisciplinary group of experts in developing a framework for understanding the interactions of splifferenes with various sectors of society. Prior workshops focused on predicting health-related impacts; this workshop emphasizes the tools and practices needed to assess the hipness factor for splifferene-based products. In conjunction with the workshop, ICON is also sponsoring a product testing.
Conceding that “we don’t have all the data yet to properly evaluate this new technology” the U.S. administration nevertheless issued a brief communiqué: “Leadership in science remains vital to America’s economic prosperity, energy security, and global competitiveness. This technology not only provides critically needed short-term economic relief but also represents a strategic investment in our nation’s future. It will create thousands of jobs and breathe new life into many local economies, while helping to accelerate new technology development, renew our scientific and engineering workforce, and modernize our nation’s scientific infrastructure.”
A usual, regulators are not too worried at this point. While the FDA confirmed that it hadn’t heard about this new nanomaterial yet, the EPA is contemplating setting up a study group to explore potential implications of splifferenes in the food chain and the environment. “We are collecting data at this point,” said an EPA spokesman. “As a government agency we can’t be seen becoming to proactive. As always, the Nanowerk Nanomaterial database is one of our most valuable sources of information to get a grip on what’s going on.”
The impact of this discovery on the existing market for diet products, a global $35 billion industry in the United States alone, could be devastating. Not surprisingly, industry associations and spokes persons for the large manufacturers are up in arms.
“We don’t think it’s safe,” says a spokeswoman for the Council for Responsible Weight Loss. “These European scientists are playing with the hopes and fears of overweight Americans. While our main products FatBuster and Sliminator are successfully being used by tens of millions of consumers in the U.S., these nano things are just wrong. Scientists shouldn’t put military-grade technology into our food. In our opinion the consumer will never go for this and this whole Spliffmeister business will go up in smoke.”
“The human body is not a test lab for Dr. Strangelove’s frankenfood,” the clearly agitated director of the conservative think tank “The Great American Enterprise” tells Nanowerk. “First of all, it’s a European effort, and we all know that the Dutch almost share a border with France. These liberal societies don’t value life as we do here in the greatest country in the world. If we had wanted to invent this, we would have. But the bottom line is that these so-called splifferenes could easily destroy our American way of life – imagine how many industries and countless jobs would be destroyed if we only had slim people run around.”
Already, giving in to enormous pressure from lobbyists, a group of law makers from both parties are drafting a resolution that would make Royal Spliffmeister products illegal to sell or possess anywhere in the United States. An exception for medical reasons is likely to be included.
Representatives of some of the large food manufacturers are less pessimistic, though. One industry source, who spoke to Nanowerk on conditions of total anonymity, actually was very enthusiastic about this new research.
“We see a tremendous opportunity to use these new nanomaterials not only to create exiting new, tasty no-fat products but we are already working on extending this research to no-calorie, no-carbs, and ultimately super tasty no-anything products. Thanks to the fluorescence of splifferenes we now can even make our candy bars glow in the dark.”
Analysts are also taken with the market opportunities arising from splifferene-based food supplements. Two of the leading nanotechnology market research firms for once agreed: “Finally there seems to be a product on the horizon that could mean the long-awaited commercial breakthrough for nanotechnology. There is a tremendous opportunity for exciting, paradigm-shifting lifestyle products that will open a completely new area of fun foods. We see huge business opportunities across the value chain for outside-the-box product design.”
“South Beach, North Beach, whatever – these diet fads are toast,” says one of these analysts, who was testing a foot-long Spliffmeister experimental product himself. “Imagine” he says, “you can now forget about things like zero-calorie sodas. Just buy the regular, fully loaded, good-tasting stuff and drink it with a splifferene coated straw or glass. The splifferenes will completely neutralize your calorie intake as you sip your beverage. And of course, Coke Nano and Bud Nanolight are already in the making. By the way, say, why is the sky turning pink…?”
While we here at Nanowerk usually shy away from commercial predictions and reporting on often wacky so-called nanotechnology products, we totally buy into the bright future for splifferenes. As a matter of fact, the Royal Spliffmeister will be the winner of Nanowerk’s first “Nanotechnology Product of the Year” award, to be launched later this year.
Finally, it’s safe to say that the commercial success for splifferenes is as good as guaranteed now that these nanoparticles even find approval among the otherwise techno critical crowd. Activist groups, ranging from Fans of the Earth to Treehuggers United, after having visited Dr. van Dope’s laboratory in Amsterdam for a live demonstration, are united in their praise for the new substance. “Who would have thought that nanotechnology is so, like, exiting,” said a spokeswoman. “It opens up totally unexpected new perspectives and experiences. This stuff is great – never seen colors that clear! No need to chill. Not only is the wow-factor surprising but we are not talking creepy nanobot stuff here. This is, like, a totally natural substance.”