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Researchers can make Mighty Mice by tinkering with their proteins before they are born, a new study suggests. These super mice have bigger and stronger muscles than their normal counterparts later in life.The protein the researchers blocked, called Grb10, seems to regulate muscle development, since the researchers only changed the protein while the mice were in the womb. When they turned off the protein during development, the researchers saw more muscle and stronger muscle in the mice when they become adults.
They found that, instead of larger muscle fibres, the mice had a greater number of muscle fibres — the individual segments that make up the muscles.
The finding actually comes out of a diabetes and obesity research program — this protein responds to insulin signals, and muscularity seems to go along with other traits that seem to protect a person from diabetes. These include how the body handles sugars and fats and how well it responds to insulin.
The findings are also important in muscle wasting diseases, injuries and muscle inflammation-related disease. The study was published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal Of The Federation Of American Societies For Experimental Biology.
“By identifying a novel mechanism regulating muscle development, our work has revealed potential new strategies to increase muscle mass,” study researcher Lowenna Holt, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, said in a statement from the journal. “Ultimately, this might improve treatment of muscle wasting conditions, as well as metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes.”
“Don’t turn in your gym membership just yet,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “If you want big muscles, the classic prescription still applies: lift heavy things, eat and sleep right, and have your hormones checked. But this study shows that when we understand the basic science of how muscle fibres grow and multiply, we will be able to lift the burden — literally — of muscle disease for many of our patients.”
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