The collaboration took place among the Salk Institute of Biological Studies and two Swiss institutes, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, and the University of Lausanne.
The study suggests that here is a tiny inhibitor that could be responsible for determining the strength of our muscles. This conclusion and procedure makes the work being done somewhat unique, because most studies in this area focus on promoting genetic accelerators instead of focusing on inhibiting genetic inhibitors. NCoR1, a gene regulator usually inhibits muscle growth. So when NCoR1 is suppressed, the body is able to send more energy to muscle cells and enhance cellular activity in the muscles. The scientists genetically removed the NCoR1 from fat and muscle cells in mice and in certain types of worms. In the absence of NCoR1, muscle tissue developed much more effectively, and were ultimately more massive and had more cellular mitochondria than the muscles of the mice where NCoR1 was still at work. The mice’s endurance and cold tolerance also dramatically improved.
This discovery enables scientists to give the benefits of exercise to sedentary mice by manipulating NCoR1. Currently, just manipulation is purely genetic, but this work could lead to developing drugs molecules or therapeutic solutions for humans who are unable to exercise due to health complications like obesity, diabetes, frailty (due to old age) or immobility (due to accidents). "This could be used to combat muscle weakness in the elderly, which leads to falls and contributes to hospitalizations," Auwerx, one of the scientists working on the study, says. "In addition, we think that this could be used as a basis for developing a treatment for genetic muscular dystrophy." When human trials begin and drug development begins in earnest, there is no question that the athletic community, as well as the medical one, will be greatly interested by the findings.
Sources: Salk Institute (2011, November 21). Tweaking a gene makes muscles twice as strong: New avenue for treating muscle degeneration in people who can't exercise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/11/111121104509.htm; The Study: http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674%2811%2901223-2