According to newscientist.com, researchers at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland, have discovered that by using gene therapy they can turn regular mice into faster and fatter “super mice,” with increased endurance.
Johan Auwerx of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland and his colleagues used a targeted virus to knock out the gene that makes a protein called nuclear receptor corepressor 1 (NCoR1) in the muscle of mice. Without this protein, the mitochondria, which powers cells, keeps working at full speed. Thus, allowing “the mice to go further, faster, on the same amount of gas,” says Auwerx.
Auwerx also found that by knocking out the same gene in fat cells, it allowed the mice to get fatter but not develop type-2 diabetes. He hopes that by giving drugs that control the NCoR1 protein in those who are already obese, it may be possible to stop them from developing type-2 diabetes as well.
The future of these discoveries include using the new treatments for diabetes care or for invigorating the muscles in elderly people and in those with muscle disorders and wasting diseases, says Auwerx. Some of the most exciting news is that these enhancements in mice don’t appear to come at a cost. Treated mice gained muscle mass but they didn’t require any extra food to keep them going.
Auwerx makes sure to warn athletes not to try to grow their muscles and stamina illicitly by somehow targeting the NCoR1 protein. The treatment has not gone through any human trials and it could have serious side effects in other parts of the body where NCor1 serves other functions.