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Pill Could Boost Sports Performance
Date:7/31/2008

Rodent study found taking it increased speed, endurance during training

THURSDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- A simple pill, combined with exercise training, might enhance speed and endurance in athletes.

Researchers reporting in the July 31 issue of Cell discovered that young adult mice that exercised and took a drug originally developed to treat metabolic diseases ran considerably farther compared with mice who only exercised. Adding yet another compound increased endurance even more, basically "tricking" the muscle into thinking it was being worked daily.

Even harder than tricking muscles, however, is translating animal findings into benefits for humans.

"It's an animal study, and it's a relatively small sample," said Malachy McHugh, director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It's very interesting, but putting genetic-type research like this into context is quite difficult at the early stage. It can offer up great potential but, when you then go to humans and when you then go to trained humans, the potential may not be there."

The advantages of exercise are well known: By reducing obesity and keeping body within normal weight, physical activity reduces the risk for cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and a myriad of other diseases.

But getting individuals to actually engage in 30 minutes or 40 minutes of exercise a day is another story.

In 2004, these researchers, from the Salk Institute and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in La Jolla, Calif., altered the PPAR-delta gene to produce mice with altered muscle composition and increased endurance. These mice were able to run twice as far as their "normal" brethren and also tended not to gain weight, even when eating a fat-heavy diet.

PPAR-delta regulates other genes. By altering its function, researchers basically tilted the sc
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