A New "Exercise" Pill …Not Really!
Washington Post Headline reads:
Scientists have synthesized a new compound that ‘mimics’ exercise. Could a workout pill be far behind?
Ever fantasize of being able to see the benefits of exercise without having to, you know, work out?
If so, research from Britain's University of Southampton published this week gives a glimpse of what may be possible in the future. Ali Tavassoli, a professor of chemical biology, and Felino Cagampang, an associate professor in integrative physiology, reported that they had synthesized a molecule that acts as an "exercise mimic" by tricking cells into thinking they have run out of energy.
Dubbed "compound 14," the new molecule does this by triggering a chain reaction of events in the cell. Compound 14 inhibits the function of an enzyme called ATIC which plays a central role in insulin signaling in the body. That in turn leads to the build up of something called ZMP -- known as a "master regulator" of metabolism -- in the cells. It's ZMP that makes cells think they have run out of energy and activate the cell's central energy censor which is known as AMPK. The cells compensate by increasing their glucose update and metabolism -- changes that typically occur during exercise and that lead to weight loss.
If this effect could be verified and the compound found to be safe in humans, it could lead to a treatment, even something as simple as a pill, for obesity or type 2 diabetes.
In the study published in the journal Chemistry and Biology on Monday, scientists gave compound 14 to two different groups of mice. One group was fed a normal diet and the other a high-fat diet which made them obese and
impaired their glucose tolerance, an early sign of pre-diabetes.
The results were intriguing: In the normal diet group, blood glucose and weight remained normal. But in the high-fat diet group, a single dose of compound 14 lowered blood glucose to near normal levels. A daily dose for seven days caused them to lose 5 percent of their body weight.
"[T]his new molecule seems to reduce glucose levels and at the same time decrease body weight, but only if the subject is obese," Cagampang explained in a statement.
Tavassoli said that there is a lot of evidence from previous studies to support the theory of selectively activating AMPK to increase the uptake and usage of glucose and oxygen by cells. "Our molecule, which activates AMK by altering cellular metabolism, therefore holds much promise as a potential therapeutic agent," he said.
The researchers said their next step would be to examine the effect of long-term treatment and how it works to improve glucose tolerance and reducing body weight.
First of all the title of this article is misleading. I am a nutritional biochemist, mathematician and neuroscientist who has worked for 30 years with people who have very complex energy disorders and also ataxic disorders of the nervous system which limits mobility, exertion and coordination and this pill does not mimic exercise, only one aspect of exertion induced cellular morphology adaptation. This area of biochemistry is well researched. This drug would only mimic very specific aspects of exercise induced adaptive physiological and biochemical change. It is only useful in select situations but for people who have a combination of compound energy and ataxic conditions it could be very useful. Energy production and movement induction is conjunctive. Most people felt they had a lot more energy when they were younger. Part of this is due to more youthful states but also because we moved more and in more dynamics ways. Every person with chronic fatigue syndrome has with it associated different levels of ataxic disorder such as conditions like fibromyalgia. At some point total energy production becomes way too low and then the body conserves energy for vital organ function only. At this point the person is in a real double bind. They need to move to induce energy sttates they need but cannot because of painful and degenerative structural and neurological conditions. When biological systems lose so much baseline physiological function capacity, it is hard to recover. There are many ways to skin a cat in this regard in terms of inducing cellular states to give the body some foothold towards improved functional development.
I use many different forms of energy induction on a biochemical level in my practice based on the specific biochemistry of the person based on primary, secondary and tertiary metabolic function both on cellular provisional level and neural regulatory level. This phenomena which is the basic vitality and viability mechanism called movement is far more complex so this drug though helpful for some people will have some serious side effects for some because it will so imbalance many secondary and tertiary metabolic states to enhance a primary one. For some people who are in a desperate state that could be a reasonable tradeoff but in some could be over enervating certain processes without understanding what else is going on in the body which in the long term could be much worse. I have a saying when it comes to solving problems…"Every problem today was some form of solution in the past". This applies succintly to this situation. So a drug as specific and powerful as this metabolically should only be taken short term and only after biochemical evaluation of energy functionality is accessed because it is not a universal energy solution. The good news is that for people who could really benefit from this kind of chemical support, there already exists on the market natural products which do AMPK activation which are more balanced. I use some of these in my practice with great results. But they have to be a part of larger metabolic protocol to be both effective and safe. Extracts of the Gynostemma pentaphyllum plant and an extract of rose hips called trans-tiliroside can induce states of progressive stabile energy induction safely and moderately through AMPK up regulation. But you have to support other energy dynamics and metabolisms for this to be effective. When you have both the involvement of both metabolic energy and neurological states, these systems must be kept in parity otherwise one can down regulate the other if one is supported in excess of the other. The goal of any metabolic protocol should be to give the system short term support and relief so it can get back into a baseline state of functionality but also support the body in doing the job itself eventually so that those initial benefits are self sustainable.
And to frank, the layperson's understanding of energy dynamics and states is very limited, as is unfornutately too many practitioners and scientists. Energy states take many singular and conjunctive forms in the body from gravitonic, electrodynamic, chemical, thermodynamic and mechanical as energy moves through a spectrum of immateriality to materiality. The basic energy equation for mass to energy conversion was developed by Einstein a century ago. And not only as teh state of energy important, its location is also important. So energy in a highly structuralized baseline membrane can be very different than tha in an allosteric free flowing environment. So we just can't talk about movement and energy so simplisticaly. We can easily observe how complex movement can be, well so is its energy component. This is why medicine has been stymied for so long about all of these energy disorders than have reached pandemic levels in a our toxic, low nutrient and high stress world. Energy systems breakdowns are the fundamental reason for all morbidity and mortality so addressing energy concerns at the level they exist is fundamental to resolving not only energy disorders but the many destructive and limiting structural conditions that can arise from them. I predicted back in the 80s using energy dynamic models that chronic energy syndromes like chronic fatigue would then morph into anabolic and catabolic disorders such as inflammatory disease and structural breakdown like Fibronyalgia and MS in the coming decades and that is exactly the progression that occurs. These ataxic disorders cannot be fundamentally resolved unless energy challenges are resolved concurrently.