Is the "fitness pill" coming?

New active ingredient increases athletic endurance and fat burning - at least in moms

So far only training is needed for stamina - but maybe there will be a pill soon. © edioimages, Pavel1964 / thinkstock
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It sounds like the dream of all sports muffle: Fit by a pill instead of tedious training. Now researchers may have discovered such an active ingredient. In the experiment, the agent gave mice a 70 percent higher stamina - without any training. The secret behind it: The active ingredient causes the muscles to burn more fat instead of sugar - and thus improves fitness and metabolism at the same time.

If you want to get fit, you have to work out - no matter if it's interval training, equipment or jogging. Because only the regular load increases strength and endurance and causes the muscles to work more effectively. The rising condition also counteracts obesity and diabetes, improves cardiovascular function and even changes the brain, as studies show.

A gene as a central "fitness counter"

But this training effect could perhaps be achieved without any sports - just by a chemical agent. The idea came from Ronald Evans of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, when they investigated the relationship between endurance and the PRARD gene in mice. They found that regular exercise increases the activity of this gene - and that the positive training effect does not occur when the gene is switched off.

"This suggests that PRARD plays a key role in the training effect, " said Evans's colleague Michael Downes. Further research has shown that the PRARD gene causes the muscles to consume less sugar and switch to fat burning earlier. As a result, the blood sugar drops later below the critical threshold, from which the physical and mental exhaustion prevails.

One and a half hours more stamina

But the deciding factor: The activity of this gene can be influenced by a chemical agent called GW1516, as the researchers discovered. In a test with mice, they regularly received a dose of 40 milligrams of GW1516 per kilogram of body weight for eight weeks and were allowed to laze all the time. Subsequently, the researchers tested the endurance of the mice in the wheel and examined their metabolism. display

Thanks to the GW1516, the mice lasted an hour and a half longer in the wheel Roger Asbury / thinkstock

The result: while untreated controls slaughtered after just 160 minutes, the GW-treated mice held for 270 minutes. "The eight-week treatment with GW was enough to give these animals one and a half hours longer stamina, " say Evans and his colleagues.

The remedy thus works just as effectively as a weeks-long sports training - without the need for the mice to move. Blood tests confirmed that blood glucose decreased significantly later and slower in the GW1516 treated animals during the race than in the control animals.

Endurance as a metabolic effect

The surprising thing was that this improvement in the condition took place without the structure of the muscles changing. While intensive training increases the number of blood vessels and mitochondria in the muscle and changes the fiber type, these changes were found in the muscles of GW-treated M do not use.

"This suggests that improved endurance is primarily due to metabolic changes, " concludes Evans and his colleagues. In fact, while taking GW, the mice also proved less susceptible to gaining weight and responding better to insulin, and these also indicated signs of decline Modified fat and sugar metabolism.

The effect promotes fat burning in the muscle, which means less glucose is consumed under stress Salk Institute

"Fitness pill" soon also for humans?

This "fitness pill" has only been tested on mice. The researchers believe, however, that the positive effects could also be transferable to humans. "We demonstrate in this study that there is more than one way to postpone the 'wall' of exhaustion, " says Evans. "The standard method is training, you get a little better with each run. But we showed that it works without the movement. "

The researchers see the benefit of this and similar active ingredients, especially in the treatment of people with limited mobility options. The drug could trim their metabolism to fitness and thus counteract overweight, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, the benefits of such a stamina pill should also quickly recognize competitive athletes as a doping agent. (Cell Metabolism, 2017; doi: 10.1016 / j.cmet.2017.04.006)

(Salk Institute / Cell Press, 05.05.2017 - NPO)