Scientists have may have just discovered the ultimate way to stay fit – without exercise, diet or lifestyle changes. Millions have dreamed of this day, but is it possible? Yes, say scientists –in the near future, visits to the gym may be replaced by visits to your gene therapist.
This month, according to a report from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), scientists recently were able to tweak a single gene in sedentary mice to produce the same effect as an intensive two week endurance training schedule. The manipulation initiated a genetic process that stimulated the mice’s heart muscle cells to proliferate; the growth was comparable to normal mice that swam 3-4 hours a day.
“If we could find a similar pathway in humans, we could eliminate diet and exercise in humans,” said Bruce Campbell, a genetic researcher based in Los Angeles. “While there is no similar process in humans today, it seems likely that we can do something similar in humans in coming years.”
These findings also may lead to a biological method for repairing the damage from heart attacks and strokes on injured heart muscles.
"They decided to try and find a gene that could be driving some of the important changes we see in exercise,” said Campbell. “Yet they’ll need to be cautious – manipulating genes is very much like playing God with the human species – changes made at these levels can be easily transmitted to future generations, and may mutate as well.”