You imagine avoid the obesity and build muscle without having to do exercise? Well, scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis (United States) claim to have found a new gene therapy that can do it. They have tested it on mice and it works!

The folistatina, a protein expressed in almost all animal and human tissue, was first discovered and described in the late 1980s. It was first investigated for its role as a reproductive hormone, although it was later discovered that influenced a number of cellular processes, such as muscle proliferation.

Álvaro Hermida

Already in the first week of quarantine, Alimente warned that the energy balance was going to change and that if we were not careful we could gain a lot of weight. Indeed, this has been accomplished: for each week we earn, on average, 1 extra kilo

Previous animal studies have shown that gene therapies designed to amplify folistatin expression can counteract certain degenerative muscle diseases. Thus, scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis focused their new research on exploring whether this type of therapy could help treat osteoarthritis (a disease that causes wear and tear on the joints) by increasing muscle mass and reduction of metabolic inflammation related to obesity. “Obesity is the most common risk factor for osteoarthritis,” he explains to the New Atlas. Farshid Guilak, principal investigator of the study. “To have being overweight can hinder a person’s ability to exercise and fully benefit from physical therapy. “

Ideal against arthritis

In the study, published in the scientific journal Science Advances. young mice participated who received a single gene therapy treatment designed to improve the expression of follistatin. Rodents were administered a high diet fats and the progression of osteoarthritis was observed. Animals managed build muscle mass without gaining additional weight, despite being fed a high fat diet and not exercising more than normal. Gene therapy markedly mitigated cartilage degeneration, synovial inflammation and bone remodeling related to joint injuries and osteoarthritis. “We have identified here a way to use gene therapy to build muscle quicklyGuilak says. “It had a profound effect on the mice and kept their weight under control, suggesting that a similar approach may be effective against arthritis, particularly in cases of morbid obesity.”

“We have identified here a way to use gene therapy to build muscle quickly.”

It is not the first time that folistatin gene treatment has been proposed for human therapies. It is being investigated as terapia potential for cancer, kidney diseases and cystic fibrosis. A human trial to test the safety of folistatin gene therapy for Becker muscular dystrophy (inherited disorder consisting of muscle weakness in the legs) suggested that the treatment did not generate adverse effects, although the effectiveness at this stage is unclear.

This new research suggests that folistatin gene therapy generates a series of multifactorial effects, not only influencing muscle mass, but also broad metabolic activities that somehow can counteract calorie intakes in high fat diets. This, according to Guilak, could open the way to future gene therapies in which humans could treat obesity without major dietary changes, or build muscle in subjects unable to exercise. “Something like that it could take years to develop“But we are excited about its prospects of reducing osteoarthritis-related joint damage, as well as possibly being helpful in extreme cases of obesity,” concludes Guilak.


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