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New Drug Mimics All Benefits of Rigorous Exercise

Pill tablet
A new drug mimics exercise effects that helped mice shed fat and build muscle. Credit: Konstantin Lazorkin / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Researchers at the University of Florida in the United States have recently conducted successful experiments on a novel drug capable of replicating the advantages of a demanding workout.

In their study, the scientists administered this drug to overweight mice, which led to notable improvements in their metabolism. Moreover, these mice experienced increased muscle development and weight reduction.

Regular physical activity associated with well-being

It is well-established that engaging in regular physical activity can significantly enhance one’s well-being. This holds particularly true for individuals dealing with cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and specific forms of cancer.

Furthermore, engaging in physical activity has also been associated with enhanced brain health, reducing the likelihood of stress, depression, and dementia, as reported by the National Health Service (NHS).

When it comes to quantity, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests engaging in 2.5 to 5 hours of moderately intense physical activity per week.

Recommended exercise levels

Regrettably, a significant portion of adults, approximately 25 percent, and a striking 80 percent of adolescents fail to meet the recommended activity levels.

In an effort to unlock the benefits of physical activity without requiring extensive exercise, scientists have dedicated years to finding ways to mimic at least a portion of these health advantages, and it seems they may have made progress in this.

Discovery of exercise mimetics

Under the leadership of Thomas Burris at the University of Florida, a research team conducted a 28-day trial of a fresh drug called SLU-PP-332. Their findings have been officially documented in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

This drug belongs to a category of potential treatments known as “exercise mimetics.” Such substances aim to replicate the bodily changes that typically occur as a result of engaging in physical activities.

“This compound is basically telling skeletal muscle to make the same changes you see during endurance training,” explained Professor Burris, who specializes in pharmacy.

During the study, researchers noticed mice experienced a boost in energy expenditure, meaning they burned more calories, all without altering their daily routines. Additionally, the mice accumulated less fat in their bodies and witnessed enhancements in metabolic functions.

During the trial, the mice exhibited a remarkable outcome. They accumulated ten times less fat and shed twelve percent of their body weight in comparison to the control group.

Burris noted, “They use more energy just living.”

Mechanism of action of the new drug

To comprehend how this drug functions, we must be aware of the body’s physiology and its response to physical exertion, which demands increased oxygen and energy at a cellular level.

In their investigation, scientists directed their attention to estrogen-related receptors (ERRs) situated within the cells. ERRs are located in body parts that require substantial energy, such as the muscles, heart, and liver. Physical activity naturally elevates ERR activity, a phenomenon mirrored by the effects of SLU-PP-332.

Professor Burris elaborated, “When you treat mice with the drug, you can see that their whole body metabolism turns to using fatty acids, which is very similar to what people use when they are fasting or exercising.”

The potential of the new drug molecule

Should this drug successfully advance through development, it has the potential to revolutionize the lives of individuals grappling with obesity, diabetes, or the natural decline in muscle mass that often accompanies aging.

Burris revealed, “This may be able to keep people healthier as they age.”

While the initial trial results appear promising, further research is imperative, especially regarding potential side effects before embarking on human trials.

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