Exercise Might Come in a Drug Someday, Researchers Say

Exercise Might Come in a Drug Someday, Researchers Say
Science & Medicine

Someday, couch potatoes may be able to swallow their exercise rather than having to engage in physical activity. Is this something we should really be striving for?

Researchers have found 1,000 molecular reactions to exercise, clearing the way for drug treatments that actually mimic the effects of exercise. The scientists have created a “blueprint” of these reactions. [1]

Researchers analyzed biopsy samples of skeletal muscle taken from 4 untrained, healthy males after the men vigorously exercised for 10 minutes. They then studied the process of protein phosphorylation – the attachment of a phosphate group to a protein – using mass spectrometry.

The protein is altered by the new phosphorus group. It is either activated, deactivated, or its function changes to allow cells to regulate biological changes. Researchers observed numerous changes that had not previously been linked to exercise.

Through the exercise blueprint, scientists have demonstrated that any drug that mimics exercise must target multiple molecules and potentially pathways. Traditional drugs only target individual molecules.

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Nolan Hoffman, co-author of the new study, says:

“Exercise produces an extremely complex, cascading set of responses within human muscle. It plays an essential role in controlling energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity. While scientists have long suspected that exercise causes a complicated series of changes to human muscle, this is the first time we have been able to map exactly what happens. This is a major breakthrough, as it allows scientists to use this information to design a drug that mimics the true beneficial changes caused by exercise.”

The development of an exercise-mimicking drug could mean that one day patients who are physically unable to exercise may be able to reap the same benefits as those who go for a daily jog or a swim. [3]

Professor David James, Leonard P. Ullmann Chair of Metabolic Systems at the Charles Perkins Centre and the head of the research group that undertook the study, said:

“Exercise is the most powerful therapy for many human diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders. However, for many people, exercise isn’t a viable treatment option. This means it is essential we find ways of developing drugs that mimic the benefits of exercise.”

The study is published in Cell Metabolism.

Additional Sources:

[1] ScienceDaily