When I was a kid, we had shows like The Six Million Dollar Man, where downed pilots were rebuilt into supermen with bionic parts – complete with sound effects!
But in the twenty-first century, it might be that we won’t need mechanical limbs to create supermen. Perhaps all we need is a little chemistry.
The researchers found that another compound, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-?-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR), boosts endurance even in mice that are not put on an exercise regimen. AICAR activates muscle genes that are normally turned on by exercise.
Now that’s an interesting way to make a super mouse. Make mouse muscles think they have been exercising and respond accordingly. No actual exercise required.
Recognizing that athletes might abuse these drugs, the team is developing a mass spectrometry technique to detect the compounds and their metabolic by-products in blood and urine.
Athletes? If this stuff
- works in humans
- doesn’t cause extremely nasty side effects
- can be gotten into the body without too much pain
… I’d expect it to be part of everyday life in the not-too-distant future.
Sure, athletes would use it. But so would everyone else. Imagine a Red Bull that actually did give you wings.