Scientists have developed a pill to mimic the effects of exercise in fat cells.
Salk Institute scientist Dr. Ronald M. Evans has experimented a diet pill on mice that controls the master regulator that controls the ability of cells to burn fat. With the pill, even without exercise and on a high fat diet, an internal chemical switch activates the same fat-burning process that occurs during exercise.
In a recent conference, Dr. Evans explained his hope that the research will lead to a new approach in enhancing human metabolic syndrome. Also known as Syndrome X, this consists of obesity and its health consequences: high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood, heart disease, and diabetes.
Dr. Evans has been researching various ways to manipulate the PPAR-d switch in fat cells in order to increase the rate of metabolism. Using genetic engineering, he has been able to permanently turn on this switch in mice. The results have been astounding, as he was able to create a mouse with a biological resistance to weight gain and twice the physical energy of normal mice. Additional work in the Evans laboratory found that activation of PPAR-d in these mice also restrains the inflammatory response connected with arthrosclerosis or stiffening of the joints.
Enhanced mice were permanently able to run an hour longer than a normal mouse, they were dubbed "marathon mice." However, their genetic engineering was turned on before birth. While the experiment provides proof of that metabolic engineering is possible, it cannot change the rate of metabolism in already formed adult muscles.
Still, Dr. Evans’s finding opens the door for the creation of a one-a-day pill with similar effects for humans. As many people fail to get the recommended 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 3 days a week, this pill could be a breakthrough to improve the quality of muscles and increase the burning of excess fat in the body.
Dr. Evans’s research gives the scientific community more insight into how the PPAR-d switch operates. Genetically engineering a marathon mouse’s metabolism increased fat burning and endurance. Mice that receive a drug to switch on PPAR-d reacted with the same increased fat burning and resistance to weight gain, but failed to show an increase in endurance or energy.
While the results have been positive in lab mice, there has been no research conducted on humans yet. Like many scientific breakthroughs in the past, there is no guarantee that Dr. Evans’s findings will work in human fat cells and the metabolic increase may only be possible in mice.
-- Diet.com News
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