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Biotech Medicine Science

Super Strength Substance Approaching Human Trials 425

kkleiner writes "You may remember Liam Hoekstra, the baby apparently born without the myostatin gene, and consequently sporting 40% more skeletal muscle than his peers. Using gene therapy, NCH scientists have been able to get follistatin (a myostatin blocker) to promote phenomenal muscle growth in macaque monkeys. NCH is now working with the FDA to perform the preliminary steps necessary for a human clinical trial. Is this the prelude to a super-strength gene therapy for all of us?"
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Super Strength Substance Approaching Human Trials

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:05PM (#30372348)

    My dwarves are going to be 100% more terrified when the monkeys have super strength!

  • by PotatoFarmer ( 1250696 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:37PM (#30372676)
    No need to guess, from TFA:

    "The National Children's Hospital interest in myostatin is not to create super strong children, but to help those children whose muscles have already atrophied. Muscular Dystrophy (MD) affects thousands of children in the US who slowly lose muscle and rarely survive into adulthood. Follistatin gene therapy could serve as a method to extend their lives or perhaps even reverse the symptoms of their conditions. Likewise, the eldery are susceptible to several diseases that lead to a loss of muscle strength and coordination. By blocking myostatin, we may all be able to live with the strength of our youth even as we age into our 80s."
  • Re:Super Soldiers? (Score:3, Informative)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:55PM (#30372800)
    Did you read the part about eating 6 meals a day and still not thriving? These "supermen" will have a super intensive logistical support network, not just to feed them but also to take care of their other medical quirks.
  • by axjms ( 167179 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:03PM (#30372864) Homepage

    While true that muscle burns more calories at rest and that a more heavier, more muscular person needs more calories than a lighter, thinner person I think most slashdotters are overestimating the effects. I mean the little hulk kid is growing too. All toddlers eat like little monsters. Anyway, a pound of muscle at rest burns 35 to 50 calories a day, so up to 500 calories for ten pounds of new muscle per day. So lets do some quick math. The average American male is made up of about 42% skeletal muscle, which at 185 lbs that is roughly 75 pounds of muscle. If you increase the muscle mass by 40% (Yes, I RTFA) that is about 30 lbs of new muscle. Pretty awesome when you think about it, but that still only burns an extra 1500 calories a day max. Most Americans overeat that amount anyway. I don't think anyone would be starving, they would just be harder and fitter. A big mac has over 500 calories to put that into perspective.

    I think a more interesting question is what do you do if this is readily available, cheap and easy to use? Would you do it? What if you are an active amateur cyclist working your way up the local ranks? They guys are gonna love you coming in with your extra 30 lbs of muscle and storm by them up the local hill. Do we start over with all the record books? This isn't exactly roids but it isn't exactly a tough training plan that you earned your fitness with either.

  • Re:consequences (Score:2, Informative)

    by Veroxii ( 51114 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:39PM (#30373126)

    It still happens - called the persistence hunt. Check it out []

  • by NeverWorker1 ( 1686452 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:12PM (#30373364)
    Here's an executive summary as it seems few people read the article before posting:
    1. Gene therapy increases muscle development
    2. It is speculated that this will decrease life span because lung capacity is not increased to match the heightened oxygen requirements.
    3. As such it will probably not be commercially available.
    4. It will be used mainly to treat kids with MD and old people with degenerative muscle disorder (read: people who would die without it).
    5. It also has use in the livestock industry as the animals are not only super-meaty but also super-lean.
    6. Whether or not the military will use it to make super soldiers ala Fallout even though it might kill them early depends on your particular political leanings.

    I hope this is helpful.
  • by slyn ( 1111419 ) <> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:22PM (#30373780)

    Those already exist, just google "belgium cows".

    Conceptually the thing as the kid, cows born without the gene so they basically are giant masses of muscle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:42AM (#30374154)

    Ah, the old 'lactic acid' canard. Lactic acid as a cause of muscle fatigue was debunked years ago. Get with the program people. []
    Lactic acid does not cause muscle fatigue.

    "How It Started: Research conducted nearly 100 years ago (on frog muscles, no less) suggested that lactic-acid levels within muscles increased with fatigue.

    The Truth: "Lactic acid increases with fatigue because it's fueling your muscle contractions," says Chad Waterbury, a strength coach in Los Angeles. It causes the painful burning sensation in your muscles that makes you want to stop lifting, but your liver is also converting lactic acid into more energy, so it's actually helping to offset fatigue. Muscle fatigue is prompted by an accumulation of protons within the muscles, which is caused by the breakdown of glycogen, the stored carbohydrate that helps to fuel exercise."

    In one study, animal muscles were injected with lactic acid and actually performed longer with less fatigue, thoroughly and forever debunking the idea.

  • Re:consequences (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:49AM (#30374172)

    metabolism is not equal to clock cycle

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:55AM (#30374462)

    My research focuses almost exclusively on muscular dystrophy(MD) and I can tell you, with near certainty, that this approach will not help these patients. The problem with MD is that the whole regenerative process breaks down. Follistatin only acts within the framework of normal muscle regeneration. The problem is that these kids exhaust their normal regeneration abilities at an early age.

    Muscle has remarkable regenerative potential due to a population of muscle stem cells. Follistatin enhances the regenerative response of these cells. The problem with MD is that these cells lose their regenerative potential as these patients approach adulthood. Instead of differentiating into muscle tissue, muscle stem cells turn into fibrotic scar tissue. These patients don't need an exaggerated stem cell response, they need something that promotes the normal regenerative process. On that front, therapies that antagonize TGF signalling are showing far more promise.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:21AM (#30375270)

    In order to work, the spacecraft needs a radius of rotation of at least tens of meters, otherwise the term "vomit comet" gets a whole new meaning. You also need some way to keep the thing balanced as people move around. Finally, all that rotation induces stress on the structure, so it needs to be thicker and heavier to withstand it.

    In other words: not anytime soon.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.