Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Swiss Scientists tweak gene to create MIGHTY MOUSE
Scientists have created a "mighty mouse" after tweaking a single gene to boost the muscles and enable it to run more than a mile without getting tired.
By Nick Collins, The Telegraph Science Correspondent 5:00PM GMT 10 Nov 2011
Mice which were genetically altered were able to run almost 50 per cent further and for 20 minutes longer than their normal cousins.
Although the mice developed slightly larger muscles, they did not need to eat any more than usual and were virtually indistinguishable from the outside other than by their vastly improved endurance.
The study, published in the Cell journal, could help scientists develop drugs to keep the muscles healthy in old age and find treatments for muscle-wasting diseases.
The researchers, from the University of Lausanne and the EPFL University in Switzerland, were not the first to produce "mighty mice" but said their work held greater potential for medical research.
While previous studies have focused on improving the way muscles use glucose – giving them much more explosive power – the latest experiment used a different gene which controls the way they burn fatty acids.
This meant the mice could improve their muscle performance for a longer period simply by burning more body fat, without requiring vast amounts of food to keep up their glucose supply.
Prof Johan Auwerx, who led the research, said: "If you are thinking about glucose you are talking about the sprinting muscles – we are talking about the marathon muscles.
"This is not like a sledgehammer or an on-off switch, it is like a dimmer. If you want to treat a patient you do not want to make a superman, you want to protect the muscle so it does not degrade."