Evolution Shift
A Future Look at Today
August 10th, 2008

Future Trends – Gain without Pain?

The new age we are now entering, The Shift Age, will be a time of great transformation.  One of the areas that will undergo the greatest transformation is health and medicine.  It is expected that nanotechnology will bring great changes in both medical treatments and life expectancy.  The miniaturization of computer and chip technology will finally initiate the era of the bionic human to some degree.  There will breakthroughs in pharmacology and discoveries that will basically be unintended consequences of research into the treatment and cures of many diseases.

One such incredible discovery was reported last week by researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego.  They reported that they had found two drugs that increased muscle endurance without exercise.  The two drugs, Alcar and GW1516 increased the endurance of ‘couch potato mice” dramatically.  Alcar increased the mice’s endurance by 44% after just four weeks of treatment.  GW1516 increased endurance by 75% but had to be combined with exercise to have any effect.

Across the country the sound of overweight couch potatoes clapping their remotes together was positively deafening.  On Wall Street, the price of publicly traded health club chains plummeted as sellers shorted the stocks.  Kidding on both accounts.

This discovery is analogous to eating meals without calories or smoking cigarettes without any negative health consequences. The “no pain, no gain” mantra spoken by thousands of personal trainers nation-wide might thankfully be retired.

There are some serious immediate positive possibilities for these drugs.  Health conditions such as obesity and diabetes which are improved by exercise may soon be treated by these drugs.  Many overweight diabetics have become that way due to an aversion to rigorous exercise.  Now they might have an alternative that will at least get them in good enough shape to undertake a real exercise program..

The lead scientist on this study is Dr. Ronald Evans a scientist with the impressive credential of having won the Lasker Award, an award often won by scientists who end up winning a Nobel Prize.  He is of the foremost authorities on how hormones work in cells and a gene controlling protein called PPAR-delta.  In the past, he found that this played different roles in muscle, which exists in two forms. Type 1 muscle fibers have a lot of  mitochondria which generate energy cellular energy and are therefore resistant to fatigue.  Type 2 muscle fibers have less mitochondria and there tire more easily.  Athletes tend to have a greater amount of type 1 muscle mass while obese people have fewer type 1 and more type 2.

Dr. Evan’s research team found that both drugs remodel muscles to create more type 1 muscle mass., but that the GW1516 increases a greater amount, but only when combined with exercise.  The research team pointed out that a test has been created to test whether a competitive athlete has taken either one of these drugs, so that they cannot be used in sports where performance enhancing drugs are prohibited.

The more we learn about health, eating and exercise the more we realize that the axioms from the past are true. Exercise every day, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, be happy, know how to relax, all have been scientifically shown to increase good health and longevity.  Upon this foundation, medical science has added wonder drugs and increasingly less invasive surgical procedures and body part replacements that even 20 years ago would have been thought to be in the realm of science fiction.

We are now entering a transformative time of discoveries and breakthroughs that will provide even more amazement and give us hope, similar to this discovery of the benefits of Alcar and GW1416.  As you contemplate this, put on a good pair of shoes and go for a good walk or run.  Don’t wait for tomorrow’s discoveries; they will be here soon enough.

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In times of global uncertainty and disruption it takes a futurist to provide context and understanding.

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