A Drug That Can Mimic Exercise May Be Closer Than You Thought

Scientists in California at Salk Institute for Biological Studies are currently developing a drug that can mimic the effects in the body usually obtained from exercise, reports the National Post. The drug would be made essentially to activate the body to produce the same effects of exercising without moving at all. It would help with endurance, weight control and more. While this seems like a “far-fetched” and unnecessary drug, it’s being develop specifically for those with diseases that cannot workout.

Many people suffering from rare diseases that limit movemnet, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, could possibly benefit from this drug. It would be designed for people in wheelchairs who are forced to live a sedentary life. Many patients with these diseases lose their battles due to muscle deterioration leading to organ damage.

A drug like this could potentially improve the quality of life for these patients, and could possibly increase their chance of survival. The idea is that the drug can trick the cells in the body to think it has run out of energy, sparking molecular action which then causes cells to metabolize sugar and produce energy. While this seems like a great concept for those with rare diseases, receiving FDA approval will be a challenge, as well as justifying the need along with the risks that come with it.

The FDA currently doesn’t see “the inability to workout” as an illness and will not grant licensing of the drug. Yet, the director of the lab, Ronald Evans, believes if they conduct a study with specifically Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients, they will have a much stronger chance of getting the green light from the FDA.

The biggest concern raised is the likeliness that abuse will occur with the drug. Athletes will want to get stronger and faster, and people who don’t enjoy working out will want to “get fit” without doing anything. There will be a lot of temptation with an approval of the drug. With that said, there is no way to avoid drug abuse with any other type of drug and if this can successfully save millions of lives, is it worth the risk of abuse? Time will tell.

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