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Scientists find roadmap that may lead to 'exercise pill'

New study reveals more than 1000 molecular changes that exercises causes on the body.

By
Stephen Feller
Understanding how exercise effects the body may help to develop a pill that mimics those effects for people who can't engage in intense physical activity. Photo by Nejron Photo/Shutterstock
Understanding how exercise effects the body may help to develop a pill that mimics those effects for people who can't engage in intense physical activity. Photo by Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

SYDNEY, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- New research reveals more than 1000 molecular changes in the body that happen during exercise, which researchers at the University of Sydney believe could help lead to an "exercise pill."

Scientists said the research provides a roadmap of the complex, cascading series of reactions to exercise in human muscles. While previous work has shown a small number of changes in the body, researchers said this is the first time they have deciphered so much of the process.

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"Exercise is the most powerful therapy for many human diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders," said Dr. David James, a professor at the University of Sydney, in a press release. "However, for many people, exercise isn't a viable treatment option. This means it is essential we find ways of developing drugs that mimic the benefits of exercise."

The researchers worked with 4 untrained men, asking them to engage in 10 minutes of high intensity exercise and took biopsies from skeletal muscle. The biopsies were analyzed using mass spectrometry to study a process called protein phosphorylation.

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Using mathematical- and engineering-based analysis of the biopsy results, which revealed more than 1000 changes to muscle after intense exercise, the researchers began to narrow down therapeutic possibilities to aim a drug treatment at.

"While scientists have long suspected that exercise causes a complicated series of changes to human muscle, this is the first time we have been able to map exactly what happens," said Dr. Nolan Hoffman, a researcher at the University of Sydney. "This is a major breakthrough, as it allows scientists to use this information to design a drug that mimics the true beneficial changes caused by exercise."

The study is published in Cell Metabolism.

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