Exercise Pill Coming Soon? Compound Helps Obese Mice Lose Weight Without Physical Exertion [STUDY]

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 18, 2013 12:55 PM EDT

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Could a weight-loss exercise pill become a reality within our lifetimes? Scientists have been able to make obese mice drop weight without increasing their level of activity. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

An exercise pill that allows you to lose weight without the hassle of going to the gym may be a reality one day, if a new study published in Nature Medicine is any indication.

The research was inspired by a 2012 study published in Nature. In the original study, researchers found that by injecting a certain chemical compound into obese mice, their levels of a protein called REV-ERB increased. When the REV-ERB increased, the mice lost weight and, even on a high-fat diet, their cholesterol levels were more favorable.

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But the more surprising part of that original study was that mice began to use more oxygen and expend about 5 percent more energy than mice who hadn't been injected with the compound. The mice injected with the compound weren't getting any more exercise, and in most cases they were even more inactive than they'd been before being injected.  

Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., built on the Nature study, further testing the effects of the compound on REV-ERB in mice. They started by creating a strain of mice that were unable to create high levels of REV-ERB. They found that these mice had diminished endurance and an oxygen capacity 60 percent lower than normal.

The Scripps scientists then injected their magical compound into the mice. The REV-ERB levels in the mice increased, as did their mitochondria levels.

Lastly, the scientists injected their compound into normal mice. They found that these mice ran "significantly longer both in time and distance" on treadmills.

The compound "certainly seems to act as an exercise mimic," said Thomas Burris, co-author of the study and the chairman of the department of pharmacological and physiological science at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Burris said that it's not inconceivable that one day an exercise pill would allow people to receive the benefit of exercise while not actually getting off the couch.

There's no timetable for this kind of exercise pill yet, as the study has only been performed in mice and not humans yet. So don't cancel your gym membership quite yet

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