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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 Qlither ( 1614211 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:04PM (#30372334)
    Well damn, now no one will buy my super mutants if they can be one :(. >MadDoc
  • by hort_wort ( 1401963 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:07PM (#30372372)

    This is my reaction too. Also, what is the cost of having to maintain all these muscles? Do you have to eat more than the normal person? Do you lose all your fine motor control?

    The human is the best animal in the brain department. Why don't they try to improve what we're good at? Why compete with the Gorilla?

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:13PM (#30372440) Homepage Journal

    first off, you would have 40% more muscle with no effort. The ladies will be a callin'

    Second off, you cold intimidate someone else to lift the DB server

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:13PM (#30372452)
    so is this the new diet drug? Americans already take in too many calories, it would be very trans-human and very cool if we just altered our muscle mass instead of shrinking our calorie intake.
  • by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:14PM (#30372456)

    We have a world food distribution/shortage problem as it is. Imagine SUPER STRONG STARVING Humans. []

  • by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:17PM (#30372498) Homepage

    Muscle burns more energy than fat, both at rest and during physical activity.

    An effective oral myostatic blocker would enable a lot of people to reduce their body fat levels with minimal lifestyle change.

    For those who are severely obese, this would be a godsend since for many of them they weigh so much and have such small muscle mass that physical activity can be dangerous.

  • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:17PM (#30372502)

    The human is the best animal in the brain department

    Which we are using to (attempt to) become better than everything at everything.

  • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:19PM (#30372516) Journal

    I would imagine that this would be incredibly useful to those with muscle wasting diseases.

  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:20PM (#30372532) Homepage

    I would guess the researchers are interested in the multi-billion-dollar weight-lifting supplement market.


  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:23PM (#30372564)
    And you thought you had problems with bullies stealing your lunch money before!
  • Super Soldiers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpuriousLogic ( 1183411 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:32PM (#30372636)
    Seriously, if we had soldiers that were 40% stronger, that would be a huge advantage. They could carry more gear, or more powerful weapons, and be considerably more effective than "normal" soldiers. The Air Force already has done trials on drugs that allow pilots to stay awake for days without side effect(a little tangent here - I'm surprised IT departments have not done this yet for Admins and programmers). You have got to think the Army and Marines would be VERY interested in this if it is viable.
  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:32PM (#30372638) Homepage
    One group of people that might take advantage of this treatment would be the elderly. Diminishing muscle mass is a major issue. I use to joke about my Mother-In-Law being mean enough to hunt Bear with a Switch; some how that doesn't seem funny any more.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:33PM (#30372650)

    We have a world food distribution/shortage problem as it is. Imagine SUPER STRONG STARVING Humans. []

    *We* do? Citation needed. Definition of "we" needed. I don't have a food shortage. No one I personally know does either. Crazy homeless people don't count. Why? Because of that little theory called "evolution." Natural selection should kill you off if you are too stupid to obtain food, or too stupid to follow the heard, or too stupid to cultivate crops. I doubt we would have a food shortage if all you evil bastards stopped donating to starving kids in Africa charities.

    Look people, they had their chance just like ever single other lineage. They grew incapable of sustaining their own lives, the burden is not on us to keep them alive, and THAT is what is causing a food shortage. If they are incapable of obtaining food (through hunting, gathering, or you know, CROP CULTIVATION) they should all starve to death so the rest of us have more resources.

    It's disgusting to see people actual donate to the starving kids in Africa funds because it allows those specific Africans to continue living off handouts in disease infested squalor, rather than migrating to an area capable of sustaining their very own lives. Shame on you charity corporations for preserving and perpetuating human suffering.

  • Re:consequences (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:45PM (#30372732) Homepage

    > Seems like there is probably a reason we have myostatin and if you disable
    > it, other health problems may result.

    You'll need to eat more.

    And no, that isn't a joke. There is strong evolutionary pressure for nutritional efficiency. Carrying around muscles you don't need uses up calories you could have used to live through the drought. Not a problem now for most humans, but it really mattered for all animals until fairly recently.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:53PM (#30372786)

    Isn't the osteoporosis one of the other big problems? Would that mean that when they got back to Earth their bones could break from too much exertion by their extra large muscles?

  • by WheelDweller ( 108946 ) <WheelDweller AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:57PM (#30372816)

    Ya know, I've seen A LOT of announcements here, like the ever-popular flexible displays that are always "just around the corner" since about 1996, but there's a reality about things like this.

    1. It's not a guaranteed arrival. Nothing in here says you get, for example, to keep the use of your penis, or that you'll be able to take the medicine AND sleep at night.

    2. This won't likely start a new race of uber-supermen as one might guess. What it *will* do is complicate Oylmpic candidates and other sport.

    I hate to be Slashdot's wet blanket, but I'm an old man, and I've seen a LOT of these things come to nothing.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:12PM (#30372942)

    When everyone is super - no one will be.


  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:23PM (#30373028) Homepage

    That's true but unfortunately you would probably have to eat a lot more protein. The diet of the average American is heavily weighted towards sugars, fats and starches since that's what our overdeveloped brains tell us we need. So we have naturally used those brains to develop mechanized agriculture that can produce those foods most efficiently. This has basically turned us into highly-intelligent blobs.

  • Re:consequences (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:36PM (#30373102)
    They would have wiped out their food sources faster than said food sources could reproduce, so no, it's not an evolutionary advantage.
  • Re:consequences (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:40PM (#30373136) Homepage Journal
    Well, if that were the case we'd all be as big as elephants. Or indeed, we'd be rats in the walls of the elephant's homes.

    Elephants have been larger in the past, the big ones are now extinct. Besides food inefficiency, cooling is a problem.

  • I'll wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alispguru ( 72689 ) <> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:42PM (#30373150) Journal
    ... until the joint and bone strengthening pills are also available.
  • Re:Super Soldiers? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:51PM (#30373216)

    Bones, tendons and ligaments...

    Need to be beefed up too. Sure in an athlete these tissues 'step up' and get tougher. But theres a finite limit then you start to have muscles that out do the rest of the machine.

  • by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:08PM (#30373344)
    Hey, if a nice body come in a pill, the beach will look a whole lot better.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:13PM (#30373376)

    I dig you Social Darwanists. We should throw you over to a refugee camp and let your superior genes make you rise to the top. Would be good TV.

  • Re:consequences (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deosyne ( 92713 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:29PM (#30373488)

    I don't know what a Mamut is, but it sounds like something that is pretty much impossible to kill with bare hands. Therefore there wouldn't be any large groups of humans who would battle Mamuts in hand-to-hand combat on a regular basis, thereby making those humans who are capable of winning in such contests the primary breeders and thus promoting those genetic traits that provided the necessary advantage to win. Similarly, no human has ever been able to build a structure using one ton stones by themselves, except through the use of tools. That would actually promote the evolution of tool-using capabilities rather than brute strength, which is the trait that I presume you were alluding to given the subject of the article. Similarly with the beheading of saber tooth tigers.

    The human body is an astounding machine, but it has a lot of "disadvantages" that have been necessitated for efficiency, such as limiting mass for the sake of greater fuel efficiency and mobility. A vastly increased muscle mass is only viable as long as nutrition is readily available, which it just so happens to be in most industrialized nations right now. However, widespread scarcity has been the rule for most of humanity throughout the ages so there is no reason why anyone should have expected that such development would have taken place before now. Even now with the huge caloric availability that we have, there is still no reason why this sort of extreme increase in musculature would be naturally bred into humans since raw strength is even less of a major measure of fitness as it pertains to evolution than ever before.

    Point being that just because we haven't evolved the massive strength gains sought by the product being tested, it doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't biologically viable. We just haven't had an evolutionary need to do so the slow, natural way.

  • by DynamiteNeon ( 623949 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:05PM (#30373682)

    Just because you named your computer does not make it your wife, and I don't even want to know what you consider to be its jaw and tongue muscles. This drug will not work on your computer.

  • Re:Super Soldiers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:24PM (#30373792) Homepage Journal

    I can imagine he probably goes through a crapload of toilet paper too.

    Being muscular might not be worth spending half your life eating, not being able to sleep because you have to eat, and then the rest on the crapper.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigitalGodBoy ( 142596 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:56AM (#30374210) Homepage
    Why is this not +5 Terrifying?
  • by NoPantsJim ( 1149003 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:46AM (#30375360) Homepage
    I'm probably not explaining my thought process very well. Here's another shot at it...

    Have you ever seen the episode of Futurama where Fry starts dating a Lucy Liu robot? They show an educational film titled "Don't Date Robots!" that explains if you could just hook up with a beautiful robot woman all day who didn't care what you looked like, what your personality was like, how smart or successful you were, or what your hygiene habits were like, you wouldn't be motivated to ever do anything else. Hell, if I could be a fat slob and buy myself a pair of Carmen Electra robots who didn't care if I brushed my teeth or not, I'd be one happy guy. When things that used to take effort to achieve are suddenly handed out, people become lazy and sedentary.

    I know that's probably very abstract, I hope I'm getting my point across effectively.

    Hard work is good, effort is good, trying to succeed and surpass is good. Expecting others to figure out solutions for you to avoid all of this is bad. But that's just my opinion.
  • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:00AM (#30375412)

    Well also consider this. What happens when everyone is either nice and skinny or super ripped? Our human nature is still to be competitive, so there will be plenty of us still striving to be physically better than the guy standing next to you. When does it end?

    Another possibility is that when/if it becomes easy for anyone to be healthy and fit it will no longer be a major source of "competition" and people will focus on other factors (although the initial reaction will probably be that some people will take the fitness thing too far in order to outdo everyone else).

    Your argument about how children are raised is pretty weak. There was always junk food available in my home growing up, and I turned out fine. My brothers on the other hand are morbidly obese. I chose to ask my parents to let me play ice hockey, and they did. Several players from my team came from the forceful parents who only served healthy food types of homes, and they all turned into fat slobs when they left for college. I know dozens of people who were terribly fat as children, and made the conscious choice to change themselves for the better. It's all about personal choice once you become an adult. Blaming your parents for making you fat once you've passed the age of 25 is complete and utter BS.

    No, it's not weak. Research has shown that obese children are a lot more likely to end up as obese adults, and a lot of obese children are obese because of their parents (what five year-old knows enough about nutrition to understand that candy bars are unhealthy if no one tells him/her this?).

    And an individual with parents who made him/her stay fit up to age 18 has a "running start" compared to someone who was always "that fat kid", staying fit is a lot easier than becoming fit, so most likely there are lots of fat people out there who are a lot more motivated and try a lot harder to get into shape than you think, especially compared to those who were basically forced to stay super-fit by parents dreaming of their child becoming a world-class athlete.

    I suppose I just don't like the idea of fat, lazy people sitting around thinking "Oh I can have another dozen donuts, it's ok, smart scientists will figure out a way to make me skinny." It's like not working because you know you can get welfare from the taxes of the people who do.

    The "oh I can just get welfare" attitude is a lot less common than you think, and it's not like most of those with that attitude started out with it, from what I've seen it's something that comes with the 100th or so rejected job application, people just give up and say "fuck it, if no one wants me to work then I'll just sit here and watch TV".


  • by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:23AM (#30375740)

    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."

    Get off my lawn or I'll THROW you off!

  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:52AM (#30376942)

    Syndrome used technology, but his tech could be easily compared to this therapy.

    His classic line delivered to Mr. Incredible seems most appropriate here: "...and when everyone is 'Super'... No-one will be."

    It seems that once this is widely available, it won't really matter all that much as everyone will be 'Super'. We'll end up right back where we started, only more muscly.

    Actually, what concerns me more is that we have become so good at making nutrient dense food that even if we completely stop producing myostatin we will STILL have Obese people. Just really strong Obese people.

  • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:00AM (#30377004) Homepage

    If there is anything that being a punching bag taught me, it is that you don't need muscle mass to be a dangerous, angry asshole- a temper and a set of abusive parents is quite enough.

  • by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:21AM (#30377200)

    don't move it... just smash it.. until it fits in one space...

  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:39AM (#30377372)

    Right, because the only reason people aren't being the crap out of you now is because you've never bumped into anyone bigger than you.

    You know what would happen? People would do this, and have the body they want. That's it. There wouldn't be any more people running around beating people up than there are now.

  • by NiteShaed ( 315799 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:28PM (#30377890)

    I hope mass-production never becomes available to normal people.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see it available for people with a legitimate medical need. I would just hate to see just anyone get things.

    I'm probably going to get modded flamebait for this one, but here goes...

    I work hard to make everything in my house. I practice carpentry and woodworking every day. I choose how I spend my time very carefully, and I don't give in when I'd rather do something else, like work on my physique. I have earned the right to live the way I do.

    Far, far too many people in this country just want something for nothing. They want the instant fix without any hard work, and this isn't limited to having nice furniture. The idea that someone could pop down to a store and suddenly have their home look like a their furniture was made by a master craftsman makes me angry. It's like those damn "do it yourself kits" you see everywhere. When the day finally comes that a "do it yourself kit" can actually be assembled into really nice furniture, I'll be furious.

    Maybe I'm being too critical, but my opinion boils down to this: If you work hard at something, you deserve to reap the benefits. If you do not work hard at something, you deserve nothing.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger