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Biotech Science

New 'Mighty Mouse' Formula Found 200

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the beefy-rodent-overlord dept.
mystyc writes to tell us that scientists at Johns Hopkins have improved upon their original "mighty mice" discovery. Teamed with the biotech firm MetaMorphix and pharmaceutical company Wyeth, they have found a new agent that interacts with the muscle-limiting protein myostatin that was able to trigger a 60% increase in muscle size after just two weekly injections.
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New 'Mighty Mouse' Formula Found

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  • by PopeOptimusPrime (875888) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:36PM (#14229702)
    Please move this to the Apple section :P
  • I dunno ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:36PM (#14229704)
    think I'll wait 'til they work the bugs out before I go for my injections.
    • No miracle pill here (Score:5, Informative)

      by Valdrax (32670) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:29PM (#14229987)
      Well the number one through three issues I can think of is whether or not it increases tendon and ligament strength. I'm pretty sure if all it does is block myostatin that it doesn't do either. If not, then you run the risk of having muscles way too strong for your joints.

      Of course you run this same risk if you leap right into weight lifting with low-rep, heavy-weight work without spending the time to strengthen these joints with high-rep, low-weight work first.

      On the other hand, since this almost certainly does nothing for neuromuscular response, you'll also end up with a lot of large but mostly useless muscle mass that's untappable for you.

      In other words, don't expect this to substitute for working out for anyone who's not trying to stave off the decay of their existing muscles.
      • by MikeURL (890801) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:43PM (#14230046) Journal
        You're partially right. You're assuming that someone taking this drug would try to move mountains in the gym. If a person simply wanted to increase their lean body mass and did not also try to push their limit strength up then this could work rather well. Some people have wondered out loud if the elite bodybuilders have some form of defect in this gene that makes them baloon up so easily. I don't know if there is anything to that but anecdotal reports suggest that these guys often, lb for lb, move much less weight than considerably smaller powerlifers.
        • If you don't have myostatin, you'll have serious problems; Body builders are found to screte less of this, and are able to build muscle much more impressively than the average joe.

          Removing myostatin from the body may cause more profund effects like having an enlarged heart; I dont know if any of you recall this, but there was an article on a 'super baby', a child that has no mystatin production (both his parents were freakishly strong as well). He's about 4x as strong as children his size, but doctors wa

          • Re:No Problemo? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dallasmsl (938013)
            In response to your posting, bodybuilders have NOT been found to have less myostatin than non-weightlifters. Not ONE scientific report will back up your statement. In fact, in most bodybuilders, myostatin has been working just fine at keeping them from becoming absolutely huge. No bodybuilder just looks at weights and becomes muscular. Unlike these mice, bodybuilders train on a daily basis. These mice gained muscle mass (and muscle cells!) without any additional exercise! As for your inference that the chi
      • Who says people want to increase muscle mass in order to be strong? I suspect a lot of guys would like to have more muscle mass just because they think it would look good.
      • On the other hand, since this almost certainly does nothing for neuromuscular response, you'll also end up with a lot of large but mostly useless muscle mass that's untappable for you.

        Considering that an alarming amount of men in skimpy spandex outfits with 'world gym' printed on them exercise solely to get bigger, I don't think that this will be a problem.

  • Here I Come to Save the Day!!
    • by Class Act Dynamo (802223) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:20PM (#14229947) Homepage
      Dear Mr. Mouse,

      I am writing in regards to your inquiry about compensation for your recent affliction of horrible cancers. I am afraid we must reject any request for compensation. If you will refer back to the release you signed before submitting to our experiments, you will find that you stated that you understood all the risks and possible side effects of the injection and would not hold Johns Hopkins responsible for any adverse effects. In summary, I am sorry about your sickness; and I hope you can see that while this injection will eventually bring about your untimely death, you were able to dispense some mouse justice prior to your illness.

      Sincerely yours,

      G. Figley Whitesides
      Attorney at Law
  • by daddyrief (910385) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:36PM (#14229710) Homepage
    Congress better look into this. If baseball players can't do this, mice shouldn't be able to either.
  • MLB (Score:2, Funny)

    by whoop (194)
    Wonder how many baseball players read slashdot?
    • Re:MLB (Score:5, Funny)

      by IdleTime (561841) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:41PM (#14229745) Journal
      They can read???
      • The coach can read and write The pitcher can read or write The batsmen knows someone who can read or write
      • Hey, I'm a bass player you insensitive clod!
      • I went to see Jose Canseco speak. He can read, but he certainly can't write. Of course Jocks aren't the only people who easily find themselves in a nice career without working, but they are the most profound. Especially with the new trend of looking for foreigners before domestic players on the count of "potential" we are facing a real problem. These people suddenly have power and influence without any knowlege, which means they can mess things up without even trying. Of course increasing academic stan
    • Re:MLB (Score:3, Funny)

      by tomhudson (43916)

      I wonder if the governor of California reads slashdot.

      And then there's all the spam - "Proven formula. mix this new M1GHT7 M0U53 formula with V14GR4 and really amaze her! 60% larger."

  • new market? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_stinky_britches (926212) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:41PM (#14229742) Homepage Journal
    So will this only be used for already sick people, or are we going to have to test for it in sports in the next decade?
  • by BerntB (584621) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:42PM (#14229752)
    Increased heart size is dangerous, right? This increase all muscles, so...

    What are the effects on the heart?

    • but.. but... it worked for the Grinch!
    • It only affects striated muscle. Heart muscle is smooth and so is unaffected.
      • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by Seoulstriker (748895) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @06:27PM (#14230228)
        Heart muscle is also striated. However, the cardiac myocytes are not multi-nucleated and the pattern is more zig-zaggy. Nevertheless, if the cardiac myocytes were not striated, the muscle just wouldn't have enough force to contract and propel blood through the chambers and the peripheral vasculature.

        I'm still waiting on the published research...
      • It only affects striated muscle. Heart muscle is smooth and so is unaffected.

        This I remember from 7th grade biology: Digestive tract is smooth; Skeletal musculature is striated; Cardiac muscle is its own kind.

      • And where'd you see that?

        Geez, if you're going to mention outside info, cite the outside sources.
        • The published work is here [pnas.org], which explains that the gene affected is myostatin.

          Myostatin, aka GDF-8, [thinkmuscle.com] is only expressed in skeletal muscle and not cardiac or smooth muscle: "There are several TGFb s subtypes which are based on their related structure. One such member is called growth and differentiation factors (GDF) and specifically regulates growth and differentiation. GDF-8, also called myostatin, is the skeletal muscle protein associated with the double muscling in mice and cattle."

          • Yeah, but the article said the injected agent also made the "mighty" mice without myostatin grow 24% larger muscles.

            So it's likely that the injected agent isn't just affecting the myostatin stuff.
            • Not necessarily, and to delve a bit into the science, the receptor they were looking at, ACVR has an orthologue, ACVR2. Mice lacking ACVR (Acvr-/-) OR mice lacking ACRV2 (Acvr2-/-) both had larger muscles. However, Acvr-/-; Acvr2-/- double homozygous knockouts are not viable, so it is probable that both receptors regulate muscle growth.

              I didn't read the scientific article fully, but it's probably why it's only in PNAS and not Nature or Science.
    • In rugby players, the muscle growth dangerously increases pressure inside the skull...
    • Ventricular Hypertrophy - in a sedentary person - is an indication of the (usually left) vetricle working too hard to overcome narrowed atreries, and increasing its mass for that reason only.

      Many athletes have "enlarged" hearts - simply because the heart is working harder for the right reasons. For years world class athletes were being denied decent health insurance rates, because a chest x-ray would show a larger than normal heart, and MDs knew of only one reason for it - the bad one. It was in large par
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:47PM (#14229780)
    Wait, let me patent that idea, first.

  • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @04:49PM (#14229791) Journal
    So, for the obligatory recap, we're looking forward to: Mice that are really strong, don't age (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/ 18/2133229&tid=214&tid=14 [slashdot.org]), can regrow damaged limbs (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/ 01/0035245&tid=99&tid=14 [slashdot.org]), and have no fear (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/ 18/0644240&tid=191&tid=14 [slashdot.org]).

    I, for one, am investing in explosive mousetraps.
  • by Frangible (881728) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:07PM (#14229885)
    ABSTRACT: Myostatin is a secreted protein that normally functions as a negative regulator of muscle growth. Agents capable of blocking the myostatin signaling pathway could have important applications for treating human muscle degenerative diseases as well as for enhancing livestock production. Here we describe a potent myostatin inhibitor, a soluble form of the activin type IIB receptor (ACVR2B), which can cause dramatic increases in muscle mass (up to 60% in 2 weeks) when injected into wild-type mice. Furthermore, we show that the effect of the soluble receptor is attenuated but not eliminated in Mstn(-/-) mice, suggesting that at least one other ligand in addition to myostatin normally functions to limit muscle growth. Finally, we provide genetic evidence that these ligands signal through both activin type II receptors, ACVR2 and ACVR2B, to regulate muscle growth in vivo.

    Full journal article (PDF) [pnas.org]

  • normal people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rayde (738949) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:17PM (#14229935) Homepage
    so my question is this... if something like this is proven to be safe in humans, allowing large increases in muscle growth, will it ever be available to the public? if not... why not?

    Steroids have long been banned in sports because they can have catastrauphic side-effects, and pro atheletes are often seen as role models. however, if a product came out that could dramatically strengthen humans, without nasty side-effects, for what reason shouldn't the average person be able to go out and in two weeks have significantly larger muscles? should it be regulated? and if so, why?

    there are ethical implications here... the haves vs. the have-nots... those who can afford to increase their muscle mass using the products would perhaps become a superior segment of the human race. imagine a scenario where western countries and their super-citizens gain a distinct physical advantage over the less wealthy countries.

    yet think of the productivity gains that would be possible in manufacturing, construction, or other physically intensive occupations. strengthening your workers could bring huge advantages.

    it's a very interesting issue, i'm sure one that we'll see popping up again in the future.

    • Re:normal people (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheTerrorized (779893)
      AFAIK, the FDA does not approve drugs that improve regular people, just drugs that can fix problems already there. Many college students take ritalin to allow them to focus with low side-effects but they still cannot get it without a prescription.
      • Many college students take ritalin to allow them to focus with low side-effects but they still cannot get it without a prescription.

        You mean they can't legally get it without a prescription. I assure you that many of them still get it, prescription or not.
    • Re:normal people (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mangamuscle (706696)
      You need to recheck again your facts. The reason steroids are banned is not because they have side effects, ask your doctor and he will tell you that all medicines (including) drugs have side effects. So why steroids in particular are illegal and (i.e.) viagra is not? 1) The soviets block was using it and winning medals, so it was easier to call it immoral and unfair using steroids. 2) Nixon started the war on drugs, adding steroids to the list was the next natural thing to do, nowadays 'roids are a multi-m
      • "You need to recheck again your facts."

        The first rule of thumb is to check your own facts before you write such a statement.

        Steroids are NOT illegal. Banned in certain sports and may not be legally available over the counter. But in the US they are LEGAL to presribe.
    • Tell you what, you can have your super-muscles and I'll keep my .357 Magnum. Can your "superior" hominid dodge a bullet?
    • there are ethical implications here... the haves vs. the have-nots... those who can afford to increase their muscle mass using the products would perhaps become a superior segment of the human race. imagine a scenario where western countries and their super-citizens gain a distinct physical advantage over the less wealthy countries

      We don't even need to wait that long for the super muscle enhancer to come. Heightism is in fact a closely related present day problem, esp. for a community which is rapidly deve

    • How exactly would bigger muscles aid you in setting up a web server, doing your accounts, designing an ad campaign, selling real estate, operating industrial robots or any job at all that pays more than minimum wage?
      We didn't need Superman to build the Empire State Building. That's what we have machines for. These days, muscles are mainly used for beating up wives and drinking buddies. Read a few books and exercise your brain tissue, if you want to get anywhere in life.
      • This is a pretty ridiculous and prejudiced remark. Why would brains and muscles have to be mutually exclusive? I myself have an above average IQ, and I make my living off of it. Coincidentally, I also weigh 201 lbs and am working towards 10% body fat. Your comment shows you think the pursuit of muscle has no meaning. Think about how dumb that is the next time you spend hours gaming. The things that are valued for aesthetics have value even if only for that. Having said that, limiting myostatin has benefits
    • so my question is this... if something like this is proven to be safe in humans, allowing large increases in muscle growth, will it ever be available to the public? if not... why not?

      Steroids have long been banned in sports because they can have catastrauphic side-effects, and pro atheletes are often seen as role models. however, if a product came out that could dramatically strengthen humans, without nasty side-effects, for what reason shouldn't the average person be able to go out and in two weeks have s

      • Um, the distinct advantage the west has over the third world is that we can afford to eat. I don't think that they'll be any worse off because we get buff.

        THANK YOU, I'm glad someone made this point before I came through. For, well, centuries now, one of the major 'advantages' western culture (and some eastern cultures!) have had over their less-fortunate third world neighbors has been adequate nutrition. Although I don't have any handy facts, I'll postulate that most cases of third world tech withstan
  • 3rd Leg (Score:2, Funny)

    by PokerAndroid (928780)
    Does it work on that all important muscle....the 3rd leg?
  • I, for one, hope that they can use this to great effect to feed us cow-eating folk. Mmm, ultra-large spare ribs.
    • For a preview of what this will look like, look at the breed of cattle with mutant myostatin gene, the Belgian Blue. They have enormous muscles, but they are not popular because the fetus cows grow too big for natural birth, so all of them have to be born by caesarean section. An injectable myostatin blocker avoids this problem, so I predict this will soon become very important in meat farming.
      • ... the fetus cows grow too big for natural birth, so all of them have to be born by caesarean section. An injectable myostatin blocker avoids this problem...

        Myostatin is what limits muscle growth, so if having smaller muscles avoids the birth problem you'd want to inject myostatin, not a blocker.
         
        • The point being that it's not genetic, so you can inject them after they are born and not inject the pregnant cows.
        • Not if you inject the myostatin blocker into a normal cow, neatly avoiding the invitro problems with a myostatin-deficient breed.
          • Right, and what happens to people/stuff that eat the meat with the myostatin blocker in it? It may be fairly safe for cows (which aren't going to live long anyway), but humans?

            <rant>
            Nowadays too many countries and people are treating food as fuel.

            As long as it meets a certain official grade, it's food. Even if it involves dubious stuff like feeding chicken shit and feathers to cows. This apparently was stopped recently in the US because of BSE scares - turns out many chickens get fed bits of cows, so
  • I know it's funny... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cherita Chen (936355) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:52PM (#14230084) Homepage
    I know the title of this article is kind of funny, and there are a lot of funny posts on this thread, however; if you are interested in learning a little more about this, and wish to see a different perspective on the issue (such as practical appliactions, etc...) Check out the following link.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6065 [newscientist.com]

    Seeing that the source for the main article is currently ./'d, you should have time to have a gander :-)

  • Barry Bonds find out.

    Oh, wait, too late. He's shooting up even as we speak.

    101 homers next year.

    Sigh
  • Aside from the obvious jokes that can be made of this news and the military applications of a super soldier or sports being taken to a new (and unnecesary level) it's stories like this that give some hope to families like mine that have a loved one diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. My nephew, only 2 years old, has already been diagnosed with this dibilitating disorder. People with MD usually don't live far past their 20s or 30s. So I for one am anxious to see what human testing would yeild and the side eff
  • Note For Humans (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The effects are naturally occuring - albeit in a very small population of humans. Usually we suppress muscle growth - probably because too much is hard on the circulatory system. Not only that, but you only need so much muscle to hunt and all that jazz to stay alive. When we were evolving, we probably got this gene so we didn't overproduce muscle and raise our energy costs.

    You may recall the german superbaby who was born with two defective copies of the inhibiting gene - he has twice the muscle mass and
  • ...next to the mouse's name in the record book.
  • by Julian Morrison (5575) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:03PM (#14230935)
    Imagine. You've spent most of your life working to perfect your body. You've suffered boredom, pain and injuries. For this, you get all the good girls, and the admiration of your peers. Then some pencil-neck geek injects himself with myostatin blocker, and in a month he's beating you at arm-wrestling. The dungeons and dragons club actually do look like steel-thewed barbarians, if barbarians had acne.

    Oh, the dilution of kudos! How the mighty are fallen...
  • Everybody's missing the obvious here. Yes, body builders, steroids, baseball, side-effects, etc., but what I'm more interested in is.... how does it make them tase?

    Cows. Chicken (maybe). Buffalo. Not mouse.

    Tasty critters, now with 60% more meat! Yeah!
  • So they know what it does now, but not in 50 years? HA! I'm not gonna touch it. Look like a body builder now, 20 years later my heart has my circulatory system running at 120/80... psi. Not gonna do much good when I try to shake my boss' hand and render it down to coal.
  • ... on steroids! :-)
  • by Belseth (835595) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @12:32AM (#14231608)
    Damn, that explains why the mouse trap looks like a pretzel. Time to break out the bear traps and a wheel of cheese.
  • Seriously (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Johnson (580) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @01:31AM (#14231813) Homepage Journal
    I have a friend with two children doomed to die of muscular dystrophy, so I have to wonder if this might be a relevant breakthrough in that area...
  • We now have fearless mice, mice that are stronger, mice brain cells that are able to control plane simulators, and mice that we can remote control. What ever happened to the normal mice that my cats ate?? Im not saying it's a bad thing but it's odd how every month there is a mouse that is doing something new.

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