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Medicine Science

'Exercise-In-A-Pill' Boosts Athletic Endurance By 70 Percent, Study Finds (sciencedaily.com) 118

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

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And you will be 700% better, Stronger, FASTER, for LONGER!

    And then notice everyone around you has been taken over by an alien.

    And then think Trump really makes sense after all.

  • What's The Catch? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @02:00AM (#54352721)

    I'm wondering why that genetic pathway isn't active for all mice, but suspect it's because they don't live as long during a famine. I also wonder why mice evolved to be able to run for 160 minutes straight, considering they tend to move in bursts, and hide.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's a mouse thing. You wouldn't understand.

    • I'm wondering why that genetic pathway isn't active for all mice, but suspect it's because they don't live as long during a famine.

      Overall, it probably uses more energy to keep that pathway active.

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @04:54AM (#54353025) Homepage

      ... they didn't evolve it as mice, it was already there when they evolved INTO mice and it presumably doesn't reduce their survivability (and even may help on rare occasions) so natural selection hasn't removed it.

      • by e r ( 2847683 )

        ... it was already there when they evolved INTO mice ...

        [citation needed]

        ... it presumably doesn't reduce their survivability (and even may help on rare occasions) so natural selection hasn't removed it ...

        [citation needed]

        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          Occam's Razor. Your turn.

          (He said "presumably", so he's presenting a hypothesis not a fact.)

          • by e r ( 2847683 )
            Occam's razor isn't evidence.

            Yes, "presumably" means he isn't presenting the part about survivability as fact. You win this one.

            Score one for you; your turn.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You should look up video of a mouse escaping a deep drop trap. The little animal repeatedly jumped vertically almost ten times its own length for tens a minutes a time ... and then got back on the roll, fell in again, jumped again ... and escaped by the end of video. So, they may not run long distances, but they jump a lot for their survival.

    • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @08:35AM (#54353601)

      Because being able to shed weight easily isn't evolutionarily advantageous. In general, until extremely recently, and only in humans, the problem has been "how do you store enough energy", not "how do you not store this energy".

    • Because foraging for small bits of food in a large field is a lot of cardio. They evolved a long time before houses.
  • GW1516 @ wikipedia (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2017 @02:09AM (#54352743)

    Let me wikipedia that for you... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GW501516

    "GW501516 (also known as GW-501,516, GW1516, GSK-516 and on the black market as Endurobol[1]) is a PPAR receptor agonist that was invented in a collaboration between Ligand Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline in the 1990s, was entered into clinical development as a drug candidate for metabolic diseases and cardiovascular diseases, and was abandoned in 2007 because animal testing showed that the drug caused cancer to develop rapidly in several organs.

    In 2007 research was published showing that high doses of GW501516 given to mice dramatically improved their physical performance; the work was widely discussed in popular media, and led to a black market for the drug candidate and to its abuse by athletes as a doping agent. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) developed a test for GW501516 and other related chemicals and added them to the prohibited list in 2009; it has issued additional warnings to athletes that GW501516 is not safe"

    It shouldn't be a surprise that doping improves performance and is bad for you...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2017 @02:12AM (#54352751)

    So, I now can run longer and die sooner?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    GW501516 (also known as GW-501,516, GW1516, GSK-516 and on the black market as Endurobol[1]) is a PPARÎ receptor agonist that was invented in a collaboration between Ligand Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline in the 1990s, was entered into clinical development as a drug candidate for metabolic diseases and cardiovascular diseases, and was abandoned in 2007 because animal testing showed that the drug caused cancer to develop rapidly in several organs.

    In 2007 research was published showing that high doses of GW501516 given to mice dramatically improved their physical performance; the work was widely discussed in popular media, and led to a black market for the drug candidate and to its abuse by athletes as a doping agent. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) developed a test for GW501516 and other related chemicals and added them to the prohibited list in 2009; it has issued additional warnings to athletes that GW501516 is not safe.

    • If natural selection could have found a way of dramatically increasing our stamina and/or strength without reducing our lifespan or causing other issues that reduce our breeding ability then it would have almost certainly been included in our gene pool. The fact that after millions of years it hasn't tells you a lot.

      Eg: steroids will make you far stronger for a given amount of exercise compared to not taking them, but look at the huge list of (sometimes fatal) side effects. Ditto almost all other performanc

      • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @05:40AM (#54353117)

        If natural selection could have found a way of dramatically increasing our stamina and/or strength without reducing our lifespan or causing other issues that reduce our breeding ability

        You don't even have to look for really nasty side effects. Most likely the steady state energy consumption of the body goes up when fitness is enhanced. Given a limited food supply, there's an optimum point on the fitness/energy curve. I assume the natural mice are already close to that optimum. When the environment changes, the optimum may shift, and the metabolism can quickly adapt, because the pathways are already there.

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Mice reach sexual maturity at six weeks, have a lifespan of about a year over which they will produce as many as a hundred offspring. This makes them almost ideally suited for either artificial breeding or rapid population adaption by natural selection.

          I'll bet if you tracked a wild mouse population, after a couple of successive lean years the average mouse would be measurably more metabolically thrifty. After a few good years the average mouse would be more aggressive in its use of energy. But the tail e

      • by Imrik ( 148191 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:07AM (#54353161) Homepage

        For the majority of our time on earth we have been subject to limited food supplies. People in first world countries are now at a point where they are able to regularly eat more than their bodies naturally burn, usually unintentionally. If we could teach our bodies this, we would be able to make better use of the available energy. Now, whether this drug is a safe way to do that is an entirely different issue.

        • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

          I'm not sure its that simple. Most other animals are subject to limited food supplies but many of them are much stronger and have far greater endurance than us. Where they differ is gestation period and the number of years until an offspring can fend for itself. AFAIK no other animal on earth has to do parenting duties for a given offspring until they're teenagers.

          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            AFAIK no other animal on earth has to do parenting duties for a given offspring until they're teenagers.

            They just have survival, Don't have to live in a complex society with rules, and don't require an education for higher learning and require complicated judgement.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            AFAIK no other animal on earth has to do parenting duties for a given offspring until they're teenagers.

            This is more cultural than biological. There is the old gym teacher's tale that the body doesn't stop growing until you turn 25; the truth is, there is major body changes about every 7 years until your mid 50's when it slows down a bit. But these changes aren't indication that the body/mind isn't ready until it stops growing as is usually wrongfully assumed.

            The fact of the matter is, if we didn't treat our young as incompetent idiots until they were 25, many of them would be fully muture (mentally, emotiona

            • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

              "This is more cultural than biological."

              I disagree. Kids need emotion support whether it comes from a parent or a guardian. Those who don't grow up with it due to the parent(s) being absent or just useless more often than not go badly off the rails or look for substitutes in gang culture with the same result.

              Also its not just mental maturity. Physically a young child wouldn't survive for long in the wild. It would either be eaten, poison itself or die of starvation.

        • For the past several thousand years, food supply has been plentiful for most established civilizations, most of the time. Eating more food than what our bodies naturally burn isn't the problem. Our bodies have a complex system of hormones which regulate our appetite, so for the vast majority of people, overeating shouldn't be an issue. However, sugar, flour, and other fast-energy carbohydrates are prevalent in modern western diets, resulting in an obesity epidemic. These carbohydrates are resulting in i
          • by Anonymous Coward

            "Our bodies have a complex system of hormones which regulate our appetite"

            And like most complex systems they're prone to failure for a wide variety of reasons.

            • And like most complex systems they're prone to failure* for a wide variety of reasons.

              *Citations needed.

        • by Gondola ( 189182 )

          We may have had mutant humans in the past who were effectively "immortal" but they were primitives who died in childbirth or hunting mammoths or they were peasants who starved to death because of the increased calorie requirements. Sad to imagine.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Unless our social habits have artificially reduced our Stamina and/or Strength in the past few hundred years, and this drug somehow does something that counteracts bad habits.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        From TFA:

        "This study suggests that burning fat is less a driver of endurance than a compensatory mechanism to conserve glucose," says Michael Downes, a Salk senior scientist and co-senior author of the paper. "PPARD is suppressing all the points that are involved in sugar metabolism in the muscle so glucose can be redirected to the brain, thereby preserving brain function."

        It looks like all it does is activate a dormant gene (so to speak) and that its function is to keep you from getting stupid when you're

    • Yep! The longer you run, the sooner you get there!
  • by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @03:59AM (#54352913) Homepage

    So instead of being able to run 30 metres before collapsing, I'll be able to run around 50?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You joke, but this will likely result in someone knocking 2-3 seconds off of the 400m world record in the next 50 years.

    • If you take the Dash action [dandwiki.com], you can run 60 metres per turn.
    • Re:30 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @11:48AM (#54354765) Homepage Journal

      I know this is a joke, but having been there, done that, and having the arthritic knees (currently asymptomatic) to prove it, I'd like to attest that it's not really that hard to dig yourself out of that hole.

      Scientific research has shown that exercise, like everything else, has diminishing returns. At any given point, most of the health benefits of adding more exercise to your routine come in the next twenty minutes per week you add. The bad news is that it takes incredible dedication to be super-healthy; but the good news, if you aren't exercising at all, is that it's quite easy to be a lot healthier than you are now.

      As for running 50 m, that's not health, it's fitness which are two different things. If I read the summary right, the pill in question gives some of the health benefits of exercise without exercise but not the fitness benefits.

      Fitness is an adaptation of your body to the stress it "expects", so the trick isn't doing huge volumes of exercise, it's getting the intensity right. So if you want to adapt your body to running 50m, run at the pace you want to set for 50m, and drop back to walking until you've recovered and do it again. It doesn't matter if you can only run for 10m before you give up, you're telling your body it has to adapt to that level of effort. Again you don't have to put huge amounts of time and suffering into it, but there is some suffering.

      The key isn't volume; it's consistency. You don't have to run 10km a day; 2km every other day is just as good unless you're training for a 10k race.

      Anyhow, a lot of the attraction of a pill is that you wouldn't have to spend countless hours at the gym to get healthy, but the fact is you don't need that even without a magic pill. There are reasons to go to the gym but health isn't one of them. Anyhow, if you deduct the amount of time some people at the gym spend on their smartphones, they might as well stay home.

  • Why couldn't this have reached phase 3 trials before I was in my teens and couldn't get a date to save my life?

  • I have quit my IT work to become caregiver to my elderly Mom and Dad.
    In the process, I have energized my mind (and theirs) by learning a lot about nootropics (and other) supplements.

    When I tested Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) on myself, I found it gave me a great energy boost etc, etc.

    Mom and Dad can't exercise and both have type 2 diabetes (one does insulin injections and the other does Metformin/Glipiside pills).
    When started giving ALCAR to them, I found that after a few days their blood sugar levels were re

    • Fixed the link:
      "Ameliorating hypertension and insulin resistance in subjects at increased cardiovascular risk: effects of acetyl-L-carnitine therapy"
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p... [nih.gov]

      another good article:
      "Oral Acetyl-l-Carnitine Therapy and Insulin Resistance"
      http://hyper.ahajournals.org/c... [ahajournals.org]

  • Wikipedia says it' causes cancer. Thats why it was dropped.
  • cause I don't like yucky stuff.
  • How about that?!
    Another deadly pill for twisted western medicine to make more people sick over!

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