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‘Exercise-In-A-Pill’ Boosts Athletic Endurance By 70 Percent, Study Finds

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: Salk Institute scientists, building on earlier work that identified a gene pathway triggered by running, have discovered how to fully activate that pathway in sedentary mice with a chemical compound, mimicking the beneficial effects of exercise, including increased fat burning and stamina. The study, which appears in Cell Metabolism on May 2, 2017, not only deepens our understanding of aerobic endurance, but also offers people with heart conditions, pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes or other health limitations the hope of achieving those benefits pharmacologically. Previous work by the Evans lab into a gene called PPAR delta (PPARD) offered intriguing clues: mice genetically engineered to have permanently activated PPARD became long-distance runners who were resistant to weight gain and highly responsive to insulin — all qualities associated with physical fitness. The team found that a chemical compound called GW1516 (GW) similarly activated PPARD, replicating the weight control and insulin responsiveness in normal mice that had been seen in the engineered ones. However, GW did not affect endurance (how long the mice could run) unless coupled with daily exercise, which defeated the purpose of using it to replace exercise. In the current study, the Salk team gave normal mice a higher dose of GW, for a longer period of time (8 weeks instead of 4). Both the mice that received the compound and mice that did not were typically sedentary, but all were subjected to treadmill tests to see how long they could run until exhausted. Mice in the control group could run about 160 minutes before exhaustion. Mice on the drug, however, could run about 270 minutes — about 70 percent longer. For both groups, exhaustion set in when blood sugar (glucose) dropped to around 70 mg/dl, suggesting that low glucose levels (hypoglycemia) are responsible for fatigue.

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