A Pill to Help Make People Work Harder?
In the rush to help create safe weight loss drugs, a new study conducted research from a wholly different perspective. Instead of a drug focused on increasing metabolism, can there be a pill designed to make individuals want to exercise harder and more intensely?
This may sound like fiction, but the new study published in the online edition of The FASEB journal recommends that this may actually be an achievable reality. A team of researchers from Switzerland have found that a specific hormone in the brain named erythropoietin (Epo) was elevated in mice who were motivated to exercise.
Moreoever, the strain of erythropoietin used in the experiments did not cause an increase in red blood cell counts, which avoids potentially unwanted side-effects. Thus, the treatment could help with any health condition which benefits from physical activity, from obesity to Alzheimer’s and many other mental health conditions that can be alleviated through physical activity.
According to Max Gassmann, DVM, researcher from the Institute of Veterinary Physiology of the Vetsuisse-Faculty and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology at the University of Zurich said, “Here we show that Epo increases the motivation to exercise. Most probably, Epo has a general effect on a person’s mood and might be used in patients suffering from depression and related diseases.”
In making this discovery, Gassmann and his colleagues had used three types of mice, those that had no treatment, those injected with the human hormone Epo and those that were genetically modified to produce human Epo in the brain. Compared to the control group, those mice with human Epo in the brain had significantly higher running imperative without increasing red blood cell count.
Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor in Chief of the FASEB Journal captured the significance of the study by saying, “If you can’t put exercise in a pill, then maybe you can put the motivation to exercise in a pill instead. As more and more people become overweight and obese, we must attack the problem from all angles. Maybe the day will come when gyms are as easily found as fast food restaurants.”