You know those long hours you spend sweating at the gym? We could some day have a pill for that.
1200 WOAI’s Stephanie Narvaez reports researchers at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging at the U.T. Health Science Center in San Antonio are working on a pill that would ‘deliver the benefits of exercise.’
“It is unlikely that a single medication will be able to confer all of the benefits of exercises,” said Dr. Nicholas Musi, who is the director of the Institute. “But at least we can target and develop therapies that mimic some of the effects.”
The Texas Legislature in the 2013 appropriated $4 million to help with the research.
Everyone from scientists to activists from Jane Fonda in the 1980s to First Lady Michelle Obama today have promoted the health advantages of exercise and activity in reducing obesity, and improving the body’s health.
Scientists at the Barshop Institute say what exercise largely does is adjust physiological properties and bio-molecular mechanisms in the brain, and Dr. Musi says the goal is to see if there can be a pill which can have the same impact.
“We are trying to understand what are the molecular mechanisms by which exercise works,” he said. “What are the genes, proteins, and enzymes which are activated by exercise.”
The goal of the institute is to not only expand the human lifespan, but also to make sure that the quality of life is improved during that longer life.
“I don’t want to live 150 years if I’m blind and deaf and dumb and having my nappy changed,” said Professor Rochelle Buffenstein. “I’d much rather be healthy and fit for a long as I can and then drop dead suddenly.”
She says rats being studied at the Institute have been able to maintain their health, avoid cancer, and, in some cases, live seven times the normal rat lifespan of three to four years.
“We’ve never seen cancer in our naked mole rat colony, and we know that about 70% of rats die of cancer,” she said.
Among the conditions that a pill could duplicate the positive effects of exercise include hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance. Dr. Musi says a pill may be available in five years.
But when it comes to having bulging muscles or being able to run a Marathon, you’ll still have to go to the gym for that.