Listen all you girly men – obviously you have missed an all-important message from two of the most highly respected body-sculpting authorities of all time. All they wanted was to pump <clap> you up, and their philosophy was clear: a muscle is a terrible thing to waste.
Fortunately, there are researchers in the medical field who would agree, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. A collaboration between scientists at the Salk Institute and the University of Lausanne, published last November in Cell, have discovered a natural inhibitor of muscle growth that could be used to develop treatments for a range of patients with muscular degeneration problems.
These researchers have been working to learn more about the complex genetic network responsible for controlling the growth of muscle cells in our body.
In this genetic pathway, the researchers were studying a gene called NCoR1. In the process of muscle growth, this gene acts like the brakes on a car, stopping all forward progress. There are of course genes that are trying to stimulate growth, acting like the gas pedal, so it all ends up as some molecular tug-o-war. However, these researchers wondered what would happen if you just cut the brake lines.
When they got rid of this gene in mice, muscles were more massive, muscle fibers denser, and the critters were able to run on their wheels faster and longer before fatigue set in.
Of course the scientists have noble goals in their sites. They dream of learning how to block this gene with a drug to treat the elderly or those who suffer from muscular dystrophy to help them regain some strength. Wonderful!
However, I, like you probably did, went immediately to thinking of yet another way for athletes to start cheating. Trust me, these researchers are well aware of this. I just hope we can do something to stay one step ahead of the dopers out there before we have to go through another round of 24-7 PED talk on ESPN. God help us all.