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Towards an Exercise Pill

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-they-can-send-a-man-to-the-moon dept.

Medicine 362

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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362 comments

Nerd Decisions... (4, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Nerd Decisions... (5, Funny)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Nerd Decisions... (5, Funny)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Nerd Decisions... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436411)

But the iPhone will leave you as soon as it sees a buff gay with a six pack...

But...? (3, Funny)

mattpm (1135875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435565)

How do you get the couch potatoes to the pharmacy in the first place?

Re:But...? (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435739)

How do you get the couch potatoes to the pharmacy in the first place?

Don't you ever look at your email? The answer should be obvious.

Re:But...? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435841)

You use the gliding recliners like in Wall-E. Coincidentally, Wall-E totally should have included muscle men who just sat in those couches. I call scientific inaccuracies!

How Much Does the Pill Weigh? (4, Funny)

abscissa (136568) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:How Much Does the Pill Weigh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436107)

No thread like this is complete without muscle dog

http://www.bodybuildingblog.co.uk/images/muscle-dog.jpg

Re:How Much Does the Pill Weigh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436367)

You can damn well bet I am not going to move my hand to pick up more than 8-10 grams.

That's what she said

Better Living Through Chemistry (5, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435591)

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.

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (5, Insightful)

mattpm (1135875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435619)

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

That's a big IF

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (2, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435633)

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

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (4, Funny)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Better Living Through Chemistry (4, Insightful)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Better Living Through Chemistry (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436399)

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:Better Living Through Chemistry (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436409)

Between hitter-friendly parks and weak pitching rosters, how much of this hasn't happened already?

Performance Enhancing Nightmare (3, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436465)

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 system is then required to take drugs. Pharmacology driven performances become the norm. How do you maintain a boundary between pharma/no pharma performances?

Very quickly this will become an issue of children taking performance enhancing drugs, which is already happening. Impossible! Well, then please explain how EXACTLY high school -> college football(u.s.) players balloon in size and weight in less than 1 year? And then the next jump from college to pro creates more impossible body metrics.

If you can't tollerate my complex reasoing, then look at sports pharma as a way to fix every game played. I can pick winners and losers by giving one team pharma X and giving the other pharma Y. I can pick a World Series winner at the beginning of the season just that easily. Impossible you say? Well ask Bjarne Riis about doping his way into a Le Tour victory.

I would like to know what the medical purpose of this pharma is and who is paying for the research. With EPO, there's a legitimate purpose.

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (4, Interesting)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (5, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436343)

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).

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436427)

Who knows? Anabolic steroids go for as little as 50 cents a pill/vial in some places.

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436363)

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.

Re:Better Living Through Chemistry (1)

Igorod (807462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435701)

Because if you know the drug companies it will probably be expensive as hell, not produced in large numbers, and impossible to come by in non-industrialized nations. Which means that it then becomes considered chemical enhancement, and all must be fair...

Give me my smart pill (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Lifestyle side effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436029)

"Being muscular" is only one of the health benefits of regular exercise. The physical motions stimulate a release of built-up toxins throughout the body, as well as support the functioning of various parts of the immune system (we really didn't evolve to sit around all day). Oh and sweating is also an important means of expelling built-up toxins.

So people who take the pill instead of exercising will be muscular but still not very healthy. People who augment the pill's use with regular aerobic exercise (full-body stuff but not necessarily needing heavy weight resistance) will be the ones who get the most benefit.

And, of course, you could combine the pill with intensive weight training, and heap so much muscle on your skeleton that it can't bear the load...giving you joint problems of all varieties, but that is an entirely different concern.

The heart muscle? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:The heart muscle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24435639)

Given that it mimics the results of aerobics, it probably would. Assuming that it doesn't give you another heart attack, first.

Re:The heart muscle? (2, Informative)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435645)

Or what would happen if the heart enlarged and crushed itself against the ribcage because it got too big?

Re:The heart muscle? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435985)

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

Re:The heart muscle? (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436043)

If steroids and other exercise/diet pills are any indication this will have a major impact on your heart. Stopping it.

so .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24435641)

would it work on gerbils? ...

--- Richard Gere

Universal Soldier anyone ? (2, Interesting)

kasmq1 (1275330) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435669)

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

Re:Universal Soldier anyone ? (4, Funny)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435929)

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"?

Countertop meat machine (4, Interesting)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Countertop meat machine (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436047)

Nah. In vitro mean lacks blood vessels, so it sort of rots. Yuck. I expect that this may be used to beef up 'natural' livestock though.

Not necessarily (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436073)

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.

Re:Not necessarily (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436511)

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! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Re:Wow! (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436257)

They even have their own powerful international organization working on getting kids to follow the "leader of the club." Televisions, food, household items, all brainwashing society and controlled by the head mouse, Mickey.

Oh, those fiendish mice.

Pill would save lives. (2, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435705)

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 reason we got into this buisness" (cue eyebrow raise here).

Re:Pill would save lives. (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436103)

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.

Re:Pill would save lives. (1)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436401)

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.

Re:Pill would save lives. (1)

foetusinc (766466) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436175)

Or, again, they could just exercise.

Re:Pill would save lives. (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436501)

There are quite a few people who cannot exorcise. Elderly people with joint problems. People in casts with broken bones. people recovering from operations. There are a lot of people who the Mem Get of your ass and do something just isn't practical.

Re:Pill would save lives. (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436225)

They never mention it in these stories, but what are the side effects? I doubt it will let you shed the pounds without some fucked up thing like shedding bone mass or nerves. I could see this having a linear correlation to pounds lost for years of life lost.

From TFA "It's pushing your genome toward a more enhanced genetic tone that impacts metabolism and muscle function"

cancer anyone? or what could possibly go wrong.

Re:Pill would save lives. (1)

Tenek (738297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436361)

Keep in mind that the kind of people who undergo liposuction aren't going to be that healthy to begin with... that probably drags the death rate up a bit. Maybe not a lot, but it's still pretty low to begin with, and it then gets compared to things like what, a nose job? Risky, that.

Uh oh (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435717)

Once they develop pills for big dicks, fashion sense, personality, and odor elimination, Linux development will cease!

Re:Uh oh (4, Funny)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436087)

Once they develop that pill most society will cease, we'll just all live in the forest being beautiful. Maybe that's how elves got started?

Huh? (4, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435719)

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.

Here's the Cell article (4, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436305)

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.

Space Exploration Applications? (5, Interesting)

halsver (885120) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Space Exploration Applications? (2, Informative)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436115)

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.

Re:Space Exploration Applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436309)

For future reference, slashdot doesn't like the less than sign. And anyone who didn't catch that, it's "I (heart) the future" =)

I thought was what painful electric shocks were for? Or maybe it was just to make us hate Keanu Reeves a bit less in the Matrix. Imagine if he just had to take a pill for a few weeks to get stronger. That would be one boring montage.

Re:Space Exploration Applications? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436345)

muscle atrophy is only one problem. another other is loss of bone density. there's nothing in the article which points to a fix for that yet.

Tag Needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24435771)

Steroids?

my prediction: cell death!!! (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:my prediction: cell death!!! (2, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435975)

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 cells can be coaxed through gene therapy to grow without the need to tear and than heal said cells, you wouldn't need to waste so much time doing useless exercise. The key is to find the genes/compounds that regulate metabolism and cellular growth, so you could have a healthy, fit body without wasting hours and hours a week running, bicycling, etc (unless you enjoy that thing, I'd prefer to be coding, designing electrical circuits, etc).

What good is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24435793)

Seriously - Someone who is a lazy fat ass, will just be a lazy fat ass with better endurance after taking these pills.

Maybe they could combine them with Alli and some meth. Motivation (my butt is leaking!), energy, and endurance, all in pill form.

This pill may make it easier physically to get in shape, but the physical part isn't what keeps the Orca-style fatties of the world from losing weight. Their problem is a total lack of motivation.

How is this different? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435799)

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?

Re:How is this different? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436299)

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, stay tuned. Slashdot should dupe this article in the next couple of weeks once Ars or Wired gets a hold of it.

Re:How is this different? (1)

iceperson (582205) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436321)

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...

Useful for those extra terrestrial nerds (2, Interesting)

penguin wise (1246798) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435813)

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.

Space travel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24435849)

This might be practical for space travel, to help stave off muscle atrophy. Not sure what to do about the bone density issues, though. Another pill?

hmmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24435851)

'It's a little bit like a free lunch without the calories'

Isn't that a bit like. . . no lunch at all?

Good news for us (1)

dashesy (1294654) | more than 5 years ago | (#24435955)

Now we can happily sit in front of our desktops for all day long, then take a pill before going to bed :) Nerds always try to beat super heroes in a nerdish way. Brain vs. Muscle which one wins?

Pills, pills, pills... (2)

cavis (1283146) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436001)

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's fat and calorie intake increases while this pill makes them fit? "Gee, I don't know why George died of a heart attack at 34. He was taking 3 Aicar pills a day, so he was in great shape."

Resveratrol (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436009)

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, but there's nothing like burning an extra thousand calories a day to get rid of the last of that abdominal fat.

Have your cake and eat it to? (3, Insightful)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's about time (1)

kristopher_d (1024113) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436403)

The primacy of life, especially one's own, should be reason enough for us all to be fit. I say this as the guy who carries around and extra half person between me and my skin. I've been working out most evenings for a month and a half now, and just plain find it frustrating. Before braking my ankle I was very fit, but all my activities were leg centric, and I didn't realize I was gaining weight until I had gained enought that excercising on a less tha optimally performing ankle was painful. Not uncomfortable, painful. So while I would tend to agree with the fit crowd to some degree (sorry, not switching to egg white only omelettes) I do agree that most of that crowd has an unearned hollier than thou attitude.

Doubt it will fix obesity. (1)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436097)

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.

Possibly useful for Astronauts? (1)

forrie (695122) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436143)

Sounds like this may be a useful treatment for astronauts... I wonder, with the issues they face in long-term weightlessness.

why bother detecting these two drugs? (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436161)

I would think using these drugs would only be cheating in sports if they build muscle mass past what can be achieved through exercise. I don't think anyone should really be concerned if they helped athletes get to the same level, just with less effort. My only concern is if use of the drugs can put an athlete at a state beyond what they would have been able to attain.

Couch Potato Solution == TENS machine (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436169)

This came out long ago. It's called a TENS machine. Hook yourself up and passively be made into a beef-cake.

Muscle tone or muscle mass? (5, Informative)

beanlover (710167) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Best application isn't for the lazy (2, Interesting)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436247)

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 (2, Informative)

cipher1024 (905768) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436291)

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 anyone think something that has this sweeping effects like this is going to be safe?

Epic...fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24436393)

Yeah, this may work as advertised. Taking a DECA & DURABOLIN steroid stack (I am a jock & nerd) will build muscle without weight lifting. That does not mean it is good for you. Also, as I saw on the news last night it *only* improves endurance (not the dirty kind). Overall health as of now did not seem to be effected.

Hrmm (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 5 years ago | (#24436475)

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'?

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