January 3, 2007 Nature magazine is reporting a fascinating new discovery by researchers at Harvard Medical School which could help boost human sporting abilities, slow muscle wasting and almost certainly create even more headaches at the World Anti-doping Agency. Led by Bruce Spiegelman, the team of Harvard Medical School scientists hit upon a genetic switch that converts almost all mouse muscle fibres into type IIX. Human muscles are made of four main types of fibre, including two 'slow-twitch' varieties and one 'fast-twitch' muscle type that are suited to endurance and sprint activities respectively. Little has been known about the fourth type, called IIX fibre, because it is scattered throughout different muscles. Spiegelman's team found a specific gene can convert muscles that are a mix of fibre types into mainly slow-twitch fibres and when tested in mice, found the mice were able to run on a treadmill for 25% longer before reaching exhaustion. Sadly, the natural attributes of Joan Benoit Samuelson, Grete Waitz, Derek Clayton, James Peters, Paula Radcliffe, Khalid Khannouchi and Abebe Bikila might be overshadowed by some remarkable performances when this research filters into practical technology for athletes to abuse.
Harvard Medical School discovery boosts endurance in mice by 25 percent
About the Author
Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks.All articles by Mike Hanlon