Deakin University scientists closing in on ‘exercise pill’

Australian scientists are close to developing an “exercise pill” that can mimic some of the health benefits of actual physical activity. Researchers at Deakin Medical School have identified a drug that makes the body respond as if it has exercised. Associate Professor Sean McGee to ABC Local Radio the discovery opens up the possibility of treatments for people who suffer with cardiovascular disease, particularly those with diabetes and obesity. “It does not actually make you lose weight,” Professor McGee said. “But you are certainly much more metabolically healthy.” Initially, the team began investigating how muscle responds to exercise. “During exercise we turn on a whole lot of genes involved in burning fat. “We really were interested in understanding how that happened at a molecular level, and then we identified a drug that essentially did the same thing as exercise.” It works by keeping certain genes, which allow for increased fat burning during exercise switched on all the time. According to Professor McGee, the drug has produced impressive results in mice that had heart problems due to their weight. “When we give this drug to mice, over a period of about a month, they start performing much better on the treadmill exercise test. “They start burning much more fat and they get all these fantastic cardiovascular benefits from it as well. However, the drugs did not make the mice eat less. “The mice actually ate a little bit more, so the body weight remains stable but metabolically they are looking much more healthy.” he said. “In terms of their stamina they are looking like they have been doing exercise training.” The team is currently redesigning the drug slightly to make it more “specific and potent”. “We would like to get it to humans within the next five years,” he said. The results of the study were published in the Cell Reports journal.

ABC News, 14 September 2016 ; ;