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Molecule That Mimics Exercise Could Help Treat Obesity and Diabetes

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Want to take a pill but get all the benefits of working out? Better living through chemistry is here for you!

Yeah science!

The molecule called compound 14 does this by first inhibiting the function of ATIC, a cellular enzyme involved in metabolism. This inhibition causes another molecule called ZMP to accumulate in the cells. The buildup of ZMP tricks the cell into acting as if they are running out of energy. AMPK, the cell's central energy sensor, is activated, causing the cells to compensate for the supposed lack of energy by increasing their glucose uptake and metabolism. This is what usually occurs when we exercise.

Researchers tested out the molecule on two sets of mice; one group was given a normal diet while the other was given a high-fat diet to make them obese and impair their glucose tolerance, which is an early sign of diabetes.

“There is a lot of evidence from previous studies that if you could selectively activate AMPK with a small molecule, it could have potential benefits in the treatment of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, by acting as an exercise mimetic and increasing the uptake and usage of glucose and oxygen by cells,” Ali Tavassoli, professor of chemical biology at the University of Southampton, said in a statement.

Researchers were encouraged by the results as compound 14 was found to “reduce blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance,” the study noted. The blood glucose levels and weight remained normal in the mice with a normal diet who were treated with compound 14. In the obese mice, compound 14 was found to reduce their elevated blood glucose nearer to normal levels.

Doing sport brings so much more than just weight loss, are we gonna end up taking a pill for every benefit sport could give us without making any effort?

I'm not sure this is gonna end well. ^^

I think the point is that we're learning more about the body's processes and how to mimic them.

Yes it's better to actually exercise but if we can mimic the process that's likely better than nothing at all.

It's especially hard for some people to get started. This could be a way to help them gently start. 

Honestly I'm not sure, I think the problem is often psychological, and telling them that now, "there's a pill!", and they won't need to make a physical effort anymore, won't help them much in solving their issues.

But that's certainly great news for disabled people who physically can't do sport and for scientific understanding of the body mechanisms in general.

We need to explain that a pill is not an answer by itself. Movement makes a body feel better. 

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