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Medicine Science

Towards an Exercise Pill 362

Posted by kdawson
from the if-they-can-send-a-man-to-the-moon dept.
aztektum among many other readers sent us news that medical researchers have developed two drugs that can build muscle tone in mice without exercise. While such an advance may inspire dreams of a "couch potato pill," the article mostly talks about other medical uses, should the drugs prove safe and effective in humans. The doctor in charge of the research is working with sports authorities to develop a test to detect the drugs in athletes. "Researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego reported that they had found two drugs that did wonders for the athletic endurance of couch potato mice. One drug, known as Aicar, increased the mice's endurance on a treadmill by 44 percent after just four weeks of treatment. A second drug, GW1516, supercharged the mice to a 75 percent increase in endurance but had to be combined with exercise to have any effect. 'It's a little bit like a free lunch without the calories,' said Dr. Ronald M. Evans, leader of the Salk group."
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Towards an Exercise Pill

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  • by RandoX (828285) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:31PM (#24435557)

    Stand in line for a pill to make me muscular, or stand in line for the new iPhone?

    At least the iPhone won't leave me as soon as I talk.

    • by Thiez (1281866) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:32PM (#24435579)

      Take the pill, and then beat up a nerd who bought the new iPhone and steal it.

      Or don't get the new iPhone at all. Who needs that thing?

      • by Palshife (60519)

        Me.

      • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:19PM (#24436507)

        Or don't get the new iPhone at all. Who needs that thing?

        Agreed. I'm not standing in line for a phone until Microsoft makes one. Then I might, though, because MS products are 1337. Or at least better than their Apple counterparts. Microsoft only needed 2 generations to make a Zune MP3 player that is better and has more features than a 7th generation iPod.

  • But...? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mattpm (1135875) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:31PM (#24435565)
    How do you get the couch potatoes to the pharmacy in the first place?
  • by abscissa (136568) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:31PM (#24435573)

    How much does the pill weigh? You can damn well bet I am not going to move my hand to pick up more than 8-10 grams.

  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@gm a i l . c om> on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:33PM (#24435591) Homepage Journal

    If this drug works as advertised & has no dangerous side effects, why wouldn't *everyone* including athletes take it? I realize that this would be an unfair advantage in the present, but I'm talking about after 20+ years of testing.

    • by mattpm (1135875) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:34PM (#24435619)

      If this drug works as advertised & has no dangerous side effects

      That's a big IF

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Jaysyn (203771)

        Oh I realize that, too good to be true & so on & so forth..

        • by sm62704 (957197)

          You must not be a couch potato, or you'd have seen the drug commercials on TV.

          "Use of our new patented super-expensive drug may cause nausia, headache, weight gain or loss, neuralgia, muscle aches, nosebleeds, sudden blindness, heart attack, liver damage, brain damage, sudden loss of stool, headaches, internal bleeding, or sudden death. Talk to your physician about a prescription today!"

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:35PM (#24435637)
      Exactly. Just like the steroid "problem" in baseball, if all the athletes take steroids, then how does one team/player have an advantage over another?
      • by Z34107 (925136) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:39PM (#24435745)

        Thing is, steroids aren't exactly without side effects. Forcing every MLB player to take steroids isn't a good solution. (But, you still haven't solved your problem - how are you going to force every player to take the same AMOUNT of the required steroids?)

        That said, Bruce Banner did this, like, a million years ago. Changes user color to green. Incompatible with mood stabilizers. Lame.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hizonner (38491)
          Professional athletes, and elite amateurs, do all kinds of hard training that can damage their bodies, either with immediate injuries or with bone and joint problems that may only show up after they've retired. Should training be banned because of the side effects?
        • by sm62704 (957197)

          Thing is, steroids aren't exactly without side effects. Forcing every MLB player to take steroids isn't a good solution.

          For the money they're getting? Are you serious? Don't make steroids mandatory, if they can win without drugs, fine.

          What I'd like to know is why performance enhansing drugs are illegal, but performance enhansing surgery (like LASIK, which can give a person with normal eyesight better than 20/20 vision, albeit with the risk of blindness) is perfectly acceptable?

          They say "Babe Ruth did it on

      • by SBacks (1286786) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:04PM (#24436227)

        The problem is that it unbalances the game.

        If everyone was taking steroids, you'd have to greatly extend the outfield so as to keep the game from becoming even more of a home run contest than it currently is. And, since steroids don't make you that much faster (as compared to how much further you can hit a ball), outfielders wouldn't be able to cover all that extra room, and batting averages would skyrocket.

        So, yeah, if everyone had steroids, no one has an advantage. But, the game they'd play wouldn't really be baseball any more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192)

          Why is that a problem? New technology creates newer and better games. Let the athletes dope up, and leave stick ball back in the 19th century where it belongs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Khashishi (775369)
            Why should we limit enhancement to chemical means? Why not give the pitcher a cybernetic cannon to launch the baseballs?
        • Between hitter-friendly parks and weak pitching rosters, how much of this hasn't happened already?
        • by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:37PM (#24436829)

          The problem is that it unbalances the game.

          If everyone was taking steroids, you'd have to greatly extend the outfield so as to keep the game from becoming even more of a home run contest than it currently is. And, since steroids don't make you that much faster (as compared to how much further you can hit a ball), outfielders wouldn't be able to cover all that extra room, and batting averages would skyrocket.

          There are a few problems with this. One is that we really don't know that steroids make everyone a much better baseball player. If you look at the list of players who've been suspended [baseball-almanac.com] you see a lot of names like Matt Lawton and Mike Morse, and not too many stars. Maybe this just means that the stars can afford untraceable stuff, but we don't really know. But really, and this surprises people, there is very little proof that steroids really help a player become better, and, even if we assume they do, little explanation of how they do it. Is it pure strength? An increase in hand-eye coordination? Some people suggest they improve vision. Can they work with all people equally? If not, why, and who benefits most?

          More importantly, baseball can be changed very significantly with fairly small adjustments to the rules that govern it. An adjustment in the height of the pitcher's mound after the 1968 season increased scoring by about a run a game. Juiced balls dramatically increased run scoring for one season in both 1930 and 1987. The Colorado Rockies have radically changed the offensive environment of their ballpark in large part by changing the method in which they store baseballs (they keep them in a humidor now).

          There are all sorts of things that could be done to "deaden" the game. Mandate a minimum thickness of bat handles -- whip-handled bats allow incredibly quick swings. Deaden the ball if you want. Raise the mound. Enforce a larger strike zone. Force batters to stay in the batter's box, and don't let them wear Craig Biggio-style body armor so they have to worry about getting hit if they lunge over the plate. Call it a strike if they get hit over the plate, or if they make no effort to get out of the way. Limit the amount of times a pitcher can throw to first with a runner on, encouraging base stealing and making speedy, athletic players more valuable than lumbering sluggers. Etc., etc.

          Bill James runs through these ideas and more in his Historical Baseball Abstract. As James says, with only small changes in the equipment and rules, baseball has been a game of 10-9 slugfests and of 3-2 bunt and steal games. It could be either one now, but Major League Baseball thinks that home runs bring profits. So that's what we've got.

      • Instead of ignoring the facts regarding drugs and basing your beliefs on ignorance, there are a HUGE list of issues that arise as a result of ignoring pharmacology in sport.

        *Minor league versions of the sport are then required to take drugs. Impossible! you exclaim. The minors are for preparing/selecting for the majors. Part of your preparation now includes pharmacology because your performance will not vaguely resemble professional level performances without them.

        *The system that feeds the minor league

      • I believe the problem is that there are health consequences associated with steroids. So if baseball gets to the point you suggest, I basically have to be willing to accept the adverse health consequences of steroids in order to play baseball competitively.
    • by CogDissident (951207) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:36PM (#24435661)
      I don't know. Maybe because the "Rich And Wealthy" would be the only ones who could afford it, and thus we'd have an upper-class composed of bodybuilder supermen, and a lower class consisting of only the frail.

      Kind of like today, but in reverse.
      • by Your.Master (1088569) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:49PM (#24435943)

        This argument has many forms, and I dislike all of them (although I admit your last line made it funny, and maybe the argument was intended to be subordinate to that).

        If that's the reason we shouldn't have this, then the problem to solve is "poor people can't have this pill", not "rich people can have this pill". The solution to social inequity is not to drag everybody down to the level of the poorest person, it's to build up the little guy. Somebody living well is not a problem; somebody living poorly is a problem.

        Now, if there's a separate reason that we shouldn't have this pill, then we can piss and moan about the rich getting it anyway.

        • It was meant as a joke, but if this pill really is as great as it sounds, they can probably make it 100$ per-day worth of dose, and make a ton more money than its production cost of probably 2$ per day of dose (or less).
          • Who knows? Anabolic steroids go for as little as 50 cents a pill/vial in some places.
          • True, to a limit. But at some price point, the drug will have to consider competition from cheap knockoffs on the internet.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by eredin (1255034)
            FTA, AICAR has been around since at least 1994, and from this article [yahoo.com], GW1516 "has a relatively simple chemical structure and can be synthesized easily." It should be relatively inexpensive.
      • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:11PM (#24436363) Journal

        It isn't unlikely that Insurance will pay for it. Many people who go through traumatic injuries have to spend weeks if not years in rehab strengthening muscles and so on.

        I foresee the primary use of this drug as a way to increase strength in elderly people or people with sore joints that can't work out like the rest of us easily or without pain. I also see it being giving after operations or whatever that have medical patients confined to a bed for long periods of time. If this drug was/is "safe", it could mean not only a massive savings in rehab costs but also a dramatic increase in the quality of life for a lot of patients.

        I don't care that some baseball player might use it to skip 20% of their already strenuous workout regime. If it works, it can do, or has the potential to do wonders for many people with medical problems.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:44PM (#24435847)

      I want a pill that will improve critical thinking skills! And logical reasoning ability!

      And while we are at it, lets make it inhance one's capacity for impartial objectivity when making important decisions.

      I would spend my entire life savings on this stuff just to dump it in my city's tap water.

      One can dream...

    • by rve (4436)

      If this drug works as advertised & has no dangerous side effects, why wouldn't *everyone* including athletes take it?

      And I'm sure they will, providing this drug is untraceable or somehow maskable in doping tests.

    • by Sir_Real (179104)

      If this drug works as advertised & has no dangerous side effects, why wouldn't *everyone* including athletes take it? I realize that this would be an unfair advantage in the present, but I'm talking about after 20+ years of testing.

      Athletes wouldn't take it for the same reason they don't use performance enhancers today. It's NOT because they're bad for your health. It's because they work really well and they make competition between people who use them and people who don't, one sided, boring and unfai

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Because all drugs have side effects. I suspect this one is going to have some rather major ones too. It sounds like the drugs increase endurance, not necessarily strength. Increasing endurance involves all sorts of things, one of which is angiogenesis. Guess what's really good at encouraging angiogenesis? Malignant tumors.

  • The heart muscle? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:33PM (#24435597)

    What about the type of muscle tissue found in the heart? Could this be used to help rebuild a heart that's been weakened by a heart attack?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CrackedButter (646746)
      Or what would happen if the heart enlarged and crushed itself against the ribcage because it got too big?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Like the Grinch?
      • Or what would happen if the heart enlarged and crushed itself against the ribcage because it got too big?

        You would turn into a sensitive new age kind of guy. You'd weep at 'Hello Kitty' movies. Women would flock to your side. Actually, your heart would fail long before it expanded into your chest cavity so you'd be dead. But the putative substance shouldn't work much on cardiac muscle [rcn.com] from the limited info in TFA

        • by cparker15 (779546)

          You actually RTFA? Wow... you're a pioneer... boldly going and all that... like James T. Kirk... or something...

        • by D Ninja (825055)

          You would turn into a sensitive new age kind of guy. You'd weep at 'Hello Kitty' movies. Women would flock to your side.

          False. Despite what the media would have you think and what (some) women say - very few women are looking for a guy who is a girl.

          They want a guy.

          Don't start crying at movies. It won't help you.

  • Not the full extent of the movie, but in one way the same. more powerful by doing nothing. Also, must be noted: good for astronauts when coming back to earth from long "exposure " to microgravity. muscle distrofy
    • by antirelic (1030688) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:48PM (#24435929) Journal

      How about "universal soldier MICE"?!?! Have you not seen all the wonder drugs made for mice? The world, fooled by the tiny size of mice, have overlooked all the scientific breakthroughs in the field of "super mice enhancement". Everything from "mental performance enhances", "cancer curing medicine" and now "muscle building drugs"... The days of humans are number. Fuck Asimov, Mice dont follow no rules.

      Can we please get a tag called "supermice"?

    • That was my first thought: long-term microgravity survival.

  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:38PM (#24435693)

    Isn't the biggest problem (ok, biggest technical problem) with in vitro meat [wikipedia.org] the fact that the muscle tissue that it grows can't get any exercise and is therefore soft and textureless?

    Couldn't this help with that problem?

    • Not necessarily (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:56PM (#24436073) Journal

      Well, you have to realize that everything in your body is chemistry. No more, no less. All the feedback loops in your body, including "oi, we're doing lots of contracting here, we need more muscle fibers!" or "oi, we're suffocating here, let's have some more blood vessels!" are based on chemical signals. Some chemicals are produced, whether solely as a dedicated hormone/signal, or as a by-product of the cell's normal functions (e.g., CO2.) Some protein binds to them, and does something else. A lot of them regulate the expression of some genes to produce more or less of some other protein, or trigger cell division.

      So, yes, if you just force a bunch of cells to divide, you'll get what you wrote.

      On the other hand, if you fake the signal which says, basically, "oi, we're doing lots of contracting here, we need more muscle fibers!", you'll get just that. The body doesn't and can't distinguish between the real thing and a faked substance which binds with the same proteins. (Which is why tobacco, marijuana, etc, work, for example. They too bind to some proteins which were meant for something else, but the body can't differentiate between its own canabinoid signals and the THC from hemp.)

      Mind you, it doesn't need to be perfect. If the other signals aren't perturbed, the body will still use its other feedback loops for stuff like building blood vessels there or for how many mitochondria it needs there. So you may have some thick muscles, but without the thick veins of real body builders, since they only have to feed those muscles in an unused state. Which isn't a problem, since, well, they do get as much oxygen there as they actually need. You might get faster tired than a real athlete, as a result, though.

      But anyway, to cut this rant short and actually answer your question: yes. It would very much help with that.

      • What if you mimicked the chemicals for producing bigger muscles AND the chemicals for producing bigger/more blood vessels?

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        I have a different problem. I have naturally very low muscle mass (I always look like a roadkill, even tho I'm not as thin as I look) and it takes more than the usual amount of exercise to build it up, plus when I'm doing real physical work I use an unghodly amount of calories (almost can't eat enough to keep up). Occurs to me that if this new drug works, it might balance out my situation and let me maintain normal muscle mass via merely normal exercise. Dunno what it would do with the energy deficit, tho.

  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:38PM (#24435697)

    I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Never in history has there ever been a better time to be a mouse!

  • by gurps_npc (621217)
    One person quoted in the story basically gave the cynical statement about not needing the pill, people could just exercise.

    Well, the death rate for liposuction is about 19 deaths per 100,000 operations. (Note, this compares with a death rate of only 1 death per 100,000 elective surgeries, so it is rather poor).

    If the pill actually works, and eliminates liposuction, that is quite a few lives saved, not to mention plastic surgeons that are freed up to do the "burn remedies and birth defects that are the rea

    • You sir, are a glass half full kind of person. Kudos.
    • That assumes that this pill has no serious side effects. Given that this is the first treatment in its class, it would be an unprecedented miracle if it had a seriously negative effect on less than 19 in 100,000 users. I'd expect a good number of Heart attacks and probably some strange new forms of muscle tissue damage.

      • by Linux_ho (205887)
        On the other hand, those 19 are just the liposuction patients. Think about how many type II diabetics would be saved by this. Adult onset diabetes is one of the most treatable diseases around -- it can basically be cured with diet and exercise. But it still affects about 3% of the population and is the leading cause of blindness and non-traumatic amputations.
    • What is the death rate per 100,000 for "putting the damn fork down?"
    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      Liposuction? Won't anyone think of diseases involving degenerating muscles? Myopathy anyone?
  • Uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:38PM (#24435717) Journal
    Once they develop pills for big dicks, fashion sense, personality, and odor elimination, Linux development will cease!
  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:38PM (#24435719) Journal

    medical researchers have developed two drugs that can build muscle tone in mice without exercise

    The New Scientist article says [newscientist.com]

    Evans and his colleague Vihang Narkar wanted to see whether a drug that activates PPAR-delta could turn regular adult rodents to miniature marathon winners. But the drug - called WG1516 - did nothing for the mice but switch on a handful of genes in their muscles.

    However, when the researchers paired doses of WG1516 with a month of training - half an hour on a treadmill, five days a week - mice given the drug jogged longer and further than drug-free mice.

    Also, it isn't two drugs either one of which do the trick, but two drugs taken together. Not a good summary at all, if the NYT article says the same as the NS article.

    • by nbauman (624611) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:08PM (#24436305) Homepage Journal

      Real geeks read Cell (with pictures)

      DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.06.051

      http://www.cell.com/content/article/fulltext?uid=PIIS0092867408008386 [cell.com]

      AMPK and PPARÎ Agonists Are Exercise Mimetics

      The benefits of endurance exercise on general health make it desirable to identify orally active agents that would mimic or potentiate the effects of exercise to treat metabolic diseases. Although certain natural compounds, such as reseveratrol, have endurance-enhancing activities, their exact metabolic targets remain elusive. We therefore tested the effect of pathway-specific drugs on endurance capacities of mice in a treadmill running test. We found that PPARÎ/Î agonist and exercise training synergistically increase oxidative myofibers and running endurance in adult mice. Because training activates AMPK and PGC1α, we then tested whether the orally active AMPK agonist AICAR might be sufficient to overcome the exercise requirement. Unexpectedly, even in sedentary mice, 4 weeks of AICAR treatment alone induced metabolic genes and enhanced running endurance by 44%. These results demonstrate that AMPK-PPARÎ pathway can be targeted by orally active drugs to enhance training adaptation or even to increase endurance without exercise.

  • by halsver (885120) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:40PM (#24435759)

    Presuming that this will be safe for use in humans, could this be one of the missing keys for space exploration? I'm imagining Joe Astronaut wakes from his month-long slumber on route to Planet X. His muscles have atrophied over this time, but by using these pills and doing some remedial exercise, he is ready to face the perils of the alien planet in days!

    I 3 the future.

         

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aztektum (170569)

      The summary they posted is not at all what I wrote, but that's exactly the first thing that popped into my head when I read the article myself.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:41PM (#24435785)

    This isn't based totally on science, just the assumption that anything too good to be true usually is.

    There are a couple of principles I might be getting wrong here, please correct me on that.

    1. Mammalian hearts all tend to have a lifespan of x number of beats. The slower the heart beats, the longer-lived the critter is. This explains why small, jumpy rodents tend to have short lives and something like a whale is long-lived. This x number seems to be fairly consistent across species.

    2. Scientists have shown that restricted calorie diets in mice will lengthen their lives and they believe this will hold true for humans as well. The more you eat, the sooner you die.

    3. Exercise has more components than just body movement. Muscles are strengthened through use by the tearing of muscle fibers and the healing process of repairing those tears. There's been talk of direct electric stimulation of muscles to prevent atrophy, first brought up for long space voyages, later depicted in the first Matrix movie when they had the freshly decanted Neo done up like a pin-cushion.

    My assumption is that this drug will turn out to be something like steroids. Do steroids work? Absolutely! All other conditions being equal, the athlete who uses steroids will typically outperform the athlete who remains clean. Of course, the one who remains clean will also retain important things like testicles, non-lactating breasts, and a future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      Couple of things:

      1) If it's true your heart beating slower extends it's life, than it would pay to exercise to strenthen your heart. A stronger heart beats less at rest.

      2) A restricted calorie diet helps you live longer because certain cells in your body can only reproduce so many times. Cells stop dividing because the telomeres, protective bits of DNA on the end of a chromosome, become shorter with each division and eventually can no longer protect the chromosome (quoted from Wikipedia).

      3) If muscle

    • Care to cite some studies proving a majority, or even a significant minority of steroid users develop gynocomastia or shorten their lives to a statistically significant degree?

      You seem fairly educated. Are you not familiar with the use of HCG to prevent testicular atrophy during a period of steroid use?

      You were doing so well until you started spouting unfounded populist propaganda.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      1. Mammalian hearts all tend to have a lifespan of x number of beats. The slower the heart beats, the longer-lived the critter is. This explains why small, jumpy rodents tend to have short lives and something like a whale is long-lived. This x number seems to be fairly consistent across species.

      Wow, way to miss the proverbial elephant in the room that is that rule doesn't apply at all to humans.

  • How is this that different from stimulants or steroids?

    I skimmed the article but didn't notice anything on the method of action. It just said, "Hey look at what our magical pill can do."

    I could probably take ephedrine and exercise and get the same effects.

    So would some expert like to chime in?

    Does it raise heart rate? Blood pressure?

    Does it alter mood? "Roid rage" and all that?

    • Nobody knows the answers to your questions since (apparently) it hasn't been tested in humans yet. Just wait for the phase I (safety) trials. If it has anything like the effects noted in TFA (a moderate sized if - are you a man or a mouse?) then it's going to be trialed. There is just too much potential money in this sort of drug to ignore it.

      Actually, to sort of answer my own question - these are substances that have been previously synthesized - it's possible they have been tried on humans. Anyway,
    • by iceperson (582205)
      umm, it's in the summary "can build muscle tone in mice without exercise."

      i can take all the stimulants and steroids I want, but as long as I'm tapped in a cubicle all day they aren't going to do much for me...
  • My thought on first seeing this was you could use this for extended space flights add in something for bone density loses and the first guy to walk on mars won't need a walker.

  • So now modern medicine/technology already allows us to tan without sun, whiten our teeth with lasers, cure impotence, prolong our days without sleep, control anxiety, maintain our cholesterol... and now we don't even have to get off the couch to get exercise? I hope they prescribe these in Pez dispensers because someone is going to pass out trying to open a standard prescription bottle.

    While I can see medical uses for this, I think this goes way too far for the average person. What happens when someone
  • The drugs activate at least one of the chemical pathways triggered by resveratrol, a substance that also showed increased endurance in mice. Resveratrol is found in red wine though in amounts probably too low to significantly affect muscle.

    This lends weight to the thought that Resveratrol triggers a bunch of pathways that increases life span and enhances health. Of course, the catch of all of these "health in a pill" solutions is that they just point the body in the right direction. Sure, your muscle population may shift to a higher metabolic state, but if you sit around, you won't burn many more calories.

    I've been getting into the habit of running six miles a day and am amazed at how much energy it takes. I've been in pretty good shape

  • Employers will be adding it to the water cooler.
  • by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:54PM (#24436039)
    Nice idea, but I'm not going to hold my breath. My chosen sport is cycling, and I like to ride long distances, the faster the better. If, on top of the training I do, this pill improves my endurance and other attributes similarly to what it did in mice, and it does that with no life-threatening side effects, then I might consider it. However every "miracle drug" that has ever come along has always come up with some long-term side-effects that shorten life spans or even kill you outright. I'll stick to my workouts and training rides for now, thank you very much.
  • It's about time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Paul Carver (4555) on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:55PM (#24436069)

    Although I run 5K at least 4-5 times per week and try to do at least a couple of hours of weight lifting per week, I still think that self righteous "eat less, exercise more" preachers are a bunch of jerks.

    Every food or weight related story on Slashdot brings these jerks out of the woodwork. They build up their self esteem by criticizing others. Like an anorexic or a bulimic, they have nothing important to be proud of so they build their self esteem on their weight and feel superior to people who are heavier than they are.

    Without resorting to a puritan religious justification, how can you argue that a task "should" be difficult? If it's easier for me to be fit than it is for you, does that make you "better" than me?

    If a pill can make it easier for you to lose weight and has no adverse effects why shouldn't you use it? Only a religious jerk demands that people should suffer more than necessary.

    If one person enjoys rich creamy deserts and another person enjoys basketball how can you attribute "moral" superiority to one or the other. They're both doing things they enjoy. There's absolutely no moral implication that one of those things tends to increase weight and the other tends to decrease weight.

  • The number of people who can get their stomach stapled and become obese again makes me think there's little hope for a pill to fix the problem for everyone. It will just increase the number of calories one can eat.

  • by beanlover (710167) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:05PM (#24436229)

    TFA doesn't say the word "tone" unfortunately and there is a difference. My son was born with Hypotonia which is low muscle tone. When I read the summary I got a little excited thinking this could help him out going forward.

    Basically the tone of the muscle is the elasticity of the muscle (this is from memory when the Dr.'s were explaining this to us after he had been diagnosed). It has little to nothing to do with strength and, due to his condition, makes him more prone to hernias and similar problems (he was born with a hernia which was hidden by a communicating hydrocele).

    Those with low muscle tone are more flexible (so add that to your GF requirement list :)). My son can touch his shin bone with the top of his foot (try it) as well as do complete splits, etc.

    We had to get him orthotics to help his ankles support his weight as he grew. This, fortunately (for him...not for us parental units), has NOT slowed him down. He's currently five and very active...loves to be outdoors and catch bugs...but I digress.

    Anyway...thought I'd point that difference out.

    • Had they used the word tone, it probably would have been the layman's definition, which typically means "visible muscle definition due to low body fat."
  • The best use is for bed ridden hospital patients. Being able to have patients maintain muscle mass is one of the most difficult things when treating patients with Chemotherapy for example. This drug will revolutionize the field of physical therapy. Shorter rehab times means less time spent in hospitals and big savings. Every over crowded hospital in America should be investing in this research.
  • Well Toned Fatties (Score:2, Informative)

    by cipher1024 (905768)
    The article says that they're using PPAR-delta to change the muscle tissue to the high endurance kind. It also says that one of the things that PPAR-delta can be used for is to instruct cells to burn off fat but it doesn't really say that they're using it for both purposes. So my question is: are we they going to be left with a bunch of people with good muscle tone that are still fat because they didn't exercise? Also, I'd like to point out that we can't even safely make something taste sweet. Why would
  • I didn't take the pill yet, so I don't have the energy to RTFA.. but.. can someone support my laziness and tell me if this somehow gets around the problem of making the heart grow in size so that it no longer fits in the chamber, thus causing more stress on the heart, thus leading to that state known as 'death'?

  • You Won't Look Sexy (Score:3, Informative)

    by OldMiner (589872) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:22PM (#24436541) Journal

    What this researcher has done is found a way to easily convert one type of muscle fiber "fast twitch" into a different kind "slow twitch" with a drug. The balance of these fibers makes the difference between someone who is decent at sprinting and someone who is decent at a marathon. Normally, training your muscles from fast twitch to slow twitch takes a long training regiment. Primarily, what has been contributed here is a better understanding of the underlying biochemistry. See this article on building muscle [isometric-training.com].

    But note, this isn't going to make you healthier inherently. It'll just make it easier to do longer term, load-bearing workouts without getting tired as easily. You will still get winded just as easily. You will still have to sweat. Your legs will just tell you to stop a little later than normal.

  • Muscles don't matter very much if you don't have the neurological conditioning to make use of them.

    It would be like having a 1000W amplifier with incorrectly set gain or an uncontrolled input voltage.

  • We are talking about an ancient and fundamental metabolic subsystem in all eucharyote life for the past billion years. I suspect tinkering with it will affect lots of things. Thats why dieting is so difficult in an environment of plenty - hunger is such basic drive of life.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:46PM (#24436983)
    so I'd love to take a pill to jump-start me into a condition where I could do 30 pushups and feel fine instead of 10-15 pushups and have my arms feel like rubber. I always end up quitting because I feel like I can't exercise "good enough"
  • by Yahma (1004476) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:59PM (#24437219) Journal
    You can buy Aicar right now, there is no need to wait for it to be synthesized or mass produced.

    Aicar is a common research chemical, and all it takes is a click [caymanchem.com] to purchase some Aicar. The price may prevent most people from using is as a nutritional supplement though..

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