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Scientists get closer to creating pill that mimics effect of exercise on body

SCIENTISTS are on the brink of developing a pill that provides the benefits of exercise – without the effort.

Researchers discovered a key stem cell in the body that could unleash the fat-burning potential of the pills.

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Scientists could soon provide a pill that would mimic some of the benefits of exerciseCredit: Getty

The breakthrough came after scientists identified that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are able to morph into fat-storing machines.

Exercise can reverse this effect, and they now hope that understanding this process will be used to invent drugs to target these stem cells and achieve the same results.

The groundbreaking research was carried out by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lead author of the study, Dr Manolis Kellis, said: “It is extremely important to understand the molecular mechanisms that are drivers of the beneficial effects of exercise and the detrimental effects of a high-fat diet.

“We can understand how we can intervene, and develop drugs that mimic the impact of exercise across multiple tissues.’”

Unfortunately for those looking forward to the shortcut, the team said it could be several years before the tablets hit the shelves.

And as obesity rates continue to rise across the UK, the scientists insisted that exercise and a health diet remain the best option.

The research into MSCs stem cells was carried out in mice, where two groups of rodents were fed a high-fat or normal diet for three weeks.

After being split into inactive and exercise groups, with access to treadmills, the scientists made a startling discovery.

They found that in different types of tissue, the MSCs were the factor that controlled the effect of diet and exercise.

A high-fat diet increased their ability to morph into fat-storing cells, while exercise had the opposite effect.

Two of the genes identified in the rodents are linked to increased risk of obesity in humans, with human volunteers now providing blood samples to help study the effect of the stem cells more closely.

The researchers believe their breakthrough could lead to drugs that mimic some of the benefits of exercise.

Dr Kellis said: “The message for everyone should be, eat a healthy diet and exercise if possible.

“For those for whom this is not possible, due to low access to healthy foods, or due to disabilities or other factors that prevent exercise, or simply lack of time to have a healthy diet or a healthy lifestyle, what this study says is that we now have a better handle on the pathways, the specific genes, and the specific molecular and cellular processes that we should be manipulating therapeutically.”

The findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.



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