Everybody wants to be fit. But not everybody wants to put in the effort to get there.
Who has time to spend long hours at the gym and eating right is such a bore. What if we told you that you could get ripped without exercising and eating whatever you wanted.
This is what a team at Washington University in St. Louis’ medical school achieved with mice in test trials. They created a gene therapy that when given to mice allowed them to build muscle mass and reduce obesity even while eating a diet high in fat and not exercising.
How did it work? The therapy targeted a gene called FST, which makes a protein called follistatin. Follistatin blocks a protein called myostatin, which stops muscle growth to ensure muscles don’t get too large.
The researchers injected a virus carrying a healthy FST gene into eight-week-old mice. They then observed the mice over a period of 18 weeks.
What they found was nothing short of impressive. The mice's muscle mass and strength more than doubled and they experienced reduced damage related to osteoarthritis and less inflammation in their joints.
"Regardless of diet, mice receiving FST gene therapy were protected from post-traumatic OA and bone remodeling induced by joint injury. Together, these findings suggest that FST gene therapy may provide a multifactorial therapeutic approach for injury-induced OA and metabolic inflammation in obesity," wrote the researchers in their paper.
Last but not least, the researchers were worried that the muscle growth caused by the therapy could hurt the heart. However, the study revealed that the heart function and cardiovascular health of treated mice actually improved.
If the therapy can be adapted to work for humans both its appeal and its applications would be limitless. The research was published in Science Advances.