Pair of drugs may help even sedentary lose weight

8/1/2008

LA JOLLA, Calif. Researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego reported that they had found two drugs that did wonders for the athletic endurance of “couch potato” mice, according to published reports. One drug, known as AICAR, increased the mice’s endurance on a treadmill by 44 percent after just four weeks of treatment.

A second drug, GW1516, by GlaxoSmithKline, supercharged the mice to a 75 percent increase in endurance but had to be combined with exercise to have any effect.

After starting the mice off with just GW1516, the researchers then gave the mice a combination of GW1516 and AICAR, which triggers the body to make a protein that is normally produced during exercise to signal that it should burn more energy. In sedentary mice, AICAR activates the energy sensor and imitates exercise. In fact, 20 doses of AICAR treatment is like 20 days of exercise for the mice, turning them into runners.

The results, according to Ronald Evans, leader of the Salk group, seem reasonably likely to apply to people, who control muscle tone with the same underlying genes as do mice. If the work can be transferred to humans, Evans said it may have potential for treating people with certain muscle diseases, as well as helping hospital patients, veterans and people with obesity maintain a minimum fitness level.

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