As it turns out, scientists have been working hard to finding a way to effectuate a so-called “exercise pill” that would give gym goers a way to make fewer visits to the gym while still building or maintaining their precious muscle mass. A new scientific study has brought us one big step closer towards achieving this goal and it reveals that there is a protein that our body produces that keeps us intentionally weaker.
Of course, we’ve known about myostatin for a while now, and we knew that if we somehow succeeded in blocking it, we could have amazing muscle gains with reduced gym time, as well as significantly reduced risk of heart or kidney illnesses. Like all the research before this breakthrough, the experiments that brought scientists to this knowledge were conducted on mice, but it is very possible that soon enough we will see humans being given these drugs and being tested and treated.
The breakthrough happened at Augusta University in Georgia, USA. The leading scientist behind the research is Joshua Butcher, who was quoted saying that the end goal of the entire research project would be to become able to concentrate all of the benefits of exercising in a single pill.
This pill would send signals to the body that would mimic the effects of working out, but the body’s response would also defend against getting fat. The pill is practically a very efficient myostatin blocker, and its use in the gym isn’t its only one – this pill could also help people with a wide array of muscle-wasting illnesses, like various forms of cancer, AIDS or muscular dystrophy. In practice, myostatin is the protein that stops skeletal muscle growth when it deems that the body is large enough.
Also, it should be noted that people who become obese boost the creation of myostatin in their system, which means they produce much more of it than people that aren’t obese. This makes it much harder for these people to exercise and build up a significant amount of muscle. However, this creates a magic circle – your body produces myostatin because you’re big enough, and you can’t lose weight because you can’t exercise because of the myostatin. This protein practically traps your body into staying fat or getting fatter, without any other options.
This research was exercised on four groups of lab mice, out of which some were obese and some were lean. One group consisted of lean mice without having been tampered, another group of lean mice had their myostatin blocked, the third group consisted of obese mice that had a normal myostatin level and the final was made out of obese mice with blocked myostatin.
The experiment succeeded as the researchers demonstrated that the mice without any myostatin became much more muscular than the ones that hadn’t been altered. The final group, the obese mice with an inability to create myostatin remained fat, but they also exhibited perks of their new ability – they were much stronger than their counterparts and their heart and metabolic health had improved. Also, these mice were in far, far better shape than their obese counterparts with regular myostatin levels. Dr. Butcher was quoted as saying that in the obese mice that had their myostatin blocked, several of the crucial pathologies were avoided, despite the presence of obesity.
Of course, there is a lot more research needed for this to be anywhere close to relevant to our normal daily lives, but this experiment proves that it is indeed possible to create a quick drug that would block our myostatin production and allow us to mimic the effects of exercise on our bodies, even when we’re not moving off the couch. Also, this experiment could lead to some future drugs being developed in the domain of preventing heart and metabolic illnesses induced by obesity in humans.
All in all, this is very promising information that could one day change our lives for the better – it’s not every day that we as a species invent an effective treatment for one of the worst modern illnesses! The findings of this research were presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual conference in Chicago called “Experimental Biology 2017”.