The drug fools the muscles into thinking they have worked out long and hard, which means they rapidly burn fat and boost fitness. It has been hailed as the couch potato's dream, giving the benefits young fat fat burn exercise without leaving the sofa.
Scientists found the drug boosts fat burning and stamina in inactive mice Experts say it could combat ills from obesity to muscle-wasting diseases. Even the frailty of old age could be eased by the drug's muscle-building powers, the U. Researcher Ronald Evans, a world-leading biologist, said: 'We have exercise in a pill.
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When tested on a treadmill, they could run almost 50 per cent longer than untreated mice. Effectively, they had become fit without moving a muscle, which Professor Evans said left him 'blown away'. After a month of taking that drug and exercising, mice could run 70 per cent further than other mice that had worked out on the treadmill but did not get the drug.
It is thought the drugs reprogramme the muscles, boosting the number of fat-burning fibres and allowing them to contract repeatedly without tiring. They flick a 'master switch' in muscle metabolism, increasing the production of 'slow-twitch' muscle fibres which burn fat rather than sugar for energy.
AICAR also raises levels of an enzyme that tells muscles they are running low in energy and need to burn some fat. The researchers say their work offers hope for the obese, those with muscle-wasting diseases and those who cannot exercise because of a medical condition.
The pills could also offer the benefits of exercise to those who cannot find time to fit the gym into their hectic working day. AICAR, the version that worked without exercise, is already in advanced human testing to see if it can prevent a particular complication of heart bypass surgery.
The second drug was being tested as a cholesterol-lowering pill. However, trials were halted over concerns about safety. Professor Stephen Bloom, of Imperial College London, said: 'Even if these particular agents turn out to have side-effects, the proof of principle is still there and we can look forward to someone making something which is safe and effective.
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