A newly developed chemical could ‘reprogram’ your body to be more fit

As anyone who has been inspired to hit the gym after watching the Olympics will know, building stamina and endurance is not the easiest of things. A new research project carried out by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, suggests that it could be a whole lot easier, however.

Well, if you’re a mouse, at least!

In the study, scientists gave regular mice an eight-week course of a chemical called GW1516. Usually abbreviated as “GW,” this compound directly activates a protein in the body called PPARD, which is naturally activated by exercise training. After their dose of GW, the mice were able to run on an exercise wheel for 270 minutes before showing signs of fatigue. Mice that did not receive the drug were able to run on the wheel for just 160 minutes.

The research is described in the new issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.

“There are two main points in our study that make it very interesting,” Weiwei Fan, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute, told Digital Trends. “First is the discovery of a new mechanism that explains how exercise training remodels muscle and increases endurance. Secondly, we can introduce such exercise-mimicking effects in animals solely with a chemical compound.”

The research builds on previous investigations involving GW1516 that Salk scientists have carried out. One demonstrated that a four-week course of GW helped mice control their weight and insulin response, making them less likely to become diabetic. This new experiment adds another “superpower” for the GW compound.

Before you get too excited, though, it is worth noting that the chemical is not yet ready to cross over to human test subjects. There is still plenty more to be explored before this option is even put on the table.

“Our next step is to develop the next-generation PPARD activators with a better safety profile, and explore their therapeutic potentials against common health problems such as obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and muscular dystrophy,” Fan continued.

Maybe we will hold off on our new gym membership until then!