Tag Archives: pill

Researchers develop a pill that mimics the effects of exercising

Isn’t that great? If you’re as lazy as I am, this incredible news. Just imagine sitting on a couch all day and having rocking six-pack abs at the same time. Wow. But things aren’t that simple — well, not yet.

Via Pixabay/bosmanerwin

Scientists have been working on an “exercise pill” for quite some time. Studies conducted on mice show promising results, but FDA approval is still needed for the drug to be available to patients. Unfortunately, the FDA does not see the inability to exercise as a disease that requires treating.

Who really has the time now to exercise as much as the body needs? We’re constantly on the run, yes, but mostly metaphorically. We all know the tremendous benefits of working out on a regular basis, but let’s be honest: if we’re stuck in a stressful office environment, like a large part of the population is, where can we find the energy to work out at least half an hour each day? Or even the time? I’m not trying to make excuses for everyone. However, obesity rates are rising, and we should face the facts: our ancestors engaged in more physical activity than we do today. Our food is different as well — we mostly eat high-energy processed foods, not home cooked meals or fruits and vegetables from our own gardens.

Some would argue that lifestyle is a choice and that we are fully responsible for our health. I agree, but let’s take into the consideration that a healthy lifestyle is hard to maintain, with sugar addiction being one of our worst enemies.

Researcher Ronald Mark Evans, a biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, wanted to fight against obesity, so he and his team developed a drug that mimics the effects of exercise while eliminating the need to run a mile three times a week.

How does this pill work?

The compound, known as GW1516, or 516, essentially tricks the body to burn fat instead of glucose for energy; this typically takes longer for the body to do, as it prefers to use glucose first, then fat. The human body uses the same metabolic pathway when exercising: it preserves the sugar for the brain during periods of physical stress and signals the muscles to burn fat instead.


Ali Tavassoli, a professor at the University of Southampton, has also been studying similar effects using a drug known as compound 14.

Compound 14 changes the body’s metabolism by affecting the functionality of an enzyme called ATIC. By inhibiting this enzyme, researchers trigger a chain reaction that leads the cells’ central energy sensor to think it’s running out of sugar. In consequence, the cell’s metabolism and sugar uptake are fastened. Its developers think that if Compound 14 was successfully tested on humans, it could help substantially in the fight against obesity, which affects more than a third of the U.S.’s adult population.

“If you can bring them a small molecule that can convey the benefits of training, you can really help a lot of people,” Evans told Washington Post. 


Researchers aren’t only developing this drug for those who don’t have time to exercise; the drug’s main target is people physically incapable of working out. Helping people with muscle-wasting diseases and movement disorders, the frail, the very obese and post-surgical patients is the team’s principal priority.

Alas, FDA doesn’t recognize “the inability to exercise” as a condition. So Evans decided to make them listen: he targeted 516 young people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He thinks this approach has the best chance to get FDA approval.

“This [disease] afflicts kids who can’t exercise and ultimately die of muscle wasting, often at a relatively early age, at 15 or 16,” Evans says. “It’s a disease with a large unmet medical need.”

The drug is now undergoing a small human safety study. Evans says the compound has “a potentially wide application,” including for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, and for “people in wheelchairs.”

He also believes it could be crucial for patients who develop acute kidney injury — a potentially fatal side effect of cardio-bypass surgery that is often associated with irreversible organ damage.

“The organ or tissue changes its metabolic properties and begins to burn sugar, and because it happens quickly, it’s very hard to stop,” Evans says. “Our drug helps to draw the tissue back to a more healthy state, returning it from a chronic inflammatory damaged state. It soaks up sugar. If you do this carefully and quickly, you can override the damage response.”

Scientists admit that some problems might appear if the drug becomes available to the general population. There will be no way to control abuse. Even professional athletes might be tempted to take it in order to boost their performances. The experimental 516 already is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, according to Evans, and “I’m sure any [future] version of it will be, too.”

Evans concludes: “I like exercising, and that’s good enough for me. People are designed to move. But if they can’t, it’s not healthy to be sedentary. That’s why we are developing this drug. We are trying to take science out of the laboratory and bring it into the clinic in a way that can change people’s lives. If we can do that, it would be a game-changer.”


Cutting contraceptives after marriage might change how women think of their husbands

After studying 118 newlywed couples for up to four years and regularly surveying the women, researchers Florida State University found that choosing a partner while on the pill might affect a woman’s marital satisfaction. After discontinuing hormonal contraceptives, women reported a drop in marital satisfaction. There’s a trick to it, though. Apparently, the drop in satisfaction was experienced only in those cases where the husband was judged as being less attractive. In marriages where the husband was regarded as ‘fit’, satisfaction did not change regardless of contraceptives on or off.

The pill may change how attractive you see your husband


A study suggests women should consider that contraceptives may alter how attractive they find their partners. Image: Flickr

“Many forms of hormonal contraception weaken the hormonal processes that are associated with preferences for facial attractiveness,” said Michelle Russell, a doctoral candidate at Florida State and the lead author on the study. “Accordingly, women who begin their relationship while using hormonal contraceptives and then stop may begin to prioritize cues of their husbands’ genetic fitness, such as his facial attractiveness, more than when they were taking hormonal contraceptives. In other words, a partner’s attractiveness plays a stronger role in women’s satisfaction when they discontinue hormonal contraceptives.”

Beginning a hormonal contraceptive treatment after the marriage did not appear to make any difference in the women’s satisfaction, positive or negative. In the United States, 17 percent of women ages 17 to 44 were on birth control pills in 2010, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Nearly 5 percent more used other hormonal contraception methods such as injections or a vaginal ring.

In effect, what the study seems to indicate is that the pill can significantly alter how attractive a women think of a man. Discontinuing hormonal contraceptives may have critical unintended effects on women’s relationships. Findings were published in PNAS.

“The research provides some additional information regarding the potential influences of hormonal contraceptives on relationships, but it is too early to give any practical recommendations regarding women’s family planning decisions.”

The takeaway: female ZME readers, discontinue the pill before getting married. If you’re sure your partner’s physical attractiveness matters little to you, then do as you please.

At the same time, readers should take the conclusions with a grain of salt, since causation doesn’t equal correlation, as we know. Discontinuing the pill after marriage is a sign that the couple wants to have a child, a decision undoubtedly associate with high levels of stress for the woman who – let’s face it – will have to handle most of the hurdles that come with it. On the contrary, introducing hormonal contraceptives post-marriage suggests the couple is uninterested in having a child, so the wife is unlikely to be more or less stressed than she was before getting married. The fact that the husband’s physical appearance was decisive factors is peculiar and unsurprising at the same time.

So, what’s your take on this? We’d love to hear some opinions from our married female readers. You can post anonymous, so don’t worry.  


Google plans Magnetic Nanoparticle pill that detects diseases like Cancer

On Tuesday, Google’s head of life sciences inside the company’s Google X research lab reported a new exciting project that involves using nanoparticles that magnetically attach to key molecules and cells in the bloodstream to detect diseases, including cancer. The particles – ingested under the form of a pill – would later be gathered, scanned and monitored through a non-invasive wearable device, which in theory would dramatically speed up disease diagnosis.

Google: searching your bloodstream


Credit: Google

Andrew Conrad, Head of Google[X] Life Sciences. Credit: Google

Andrew Conrad, Head of Google[X] Life Sciences. Credit: Google

The announcement was made by Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X, for the Wall Street Journal during its WSJ.D Live conference. The particles, only one billionth of a meter in width or one-thousandth the size of a red blood cell, are made out of a combination of magnetic materials and with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body. Once the nanoparticles enter the bloodstream, these bind to key molecules involved in various diseases, only to be later retrieved using their magnetic cores by a wearable device that can be worn anywhere on the skin. The nanoparticles could help detect arterial plaque or high sodium levels, and might replace standard blood tests to detect early signs of disease, according to Conrad. Most importantly, the nanoparticle and detector pair would enable real time, remote monitoring of a patient’s condition, as datastreams are sent wirelessly to a doctor.

[RELATED] Nanoparticle pill delivers insulin orally with 11-fold efficiency

“Because the core of these particles is magnetic, you can call them somewhere,” Conrad said, indicating that you could use a wearable device to gather them in the superficial veins on the inside of your wrist. “These little particles go out and mingle with the people, we call them back to one place, and we ask them: ‘Hey, what did you see? Did you find cancer? Did you see something that looks like a fragile plaque for a heart attack? Did you see too much sodium?”

Given Google’s reputation for selling stuff based on your browsing patterns, some might rightfully feel paranoid about wearing such a device. After all, having data stored about your medical health by a third party doesn’t seem safe – wait, it’s already happening. Seriously, though, Conrad said that the collected data won’t be used for marketing efforts and not even by Google. Instead,  Google would license the technology to other companies and it would not be responsible for managing information collected through nanoparticle monitoring. Even so, it won’t be until five years from now that we’ll get to see a clinical trial, according to Conrad.

Google is not only the largest search engine in the world, but also one of the biggest tech companies. Now, the company is positioning itself in all sorts of line of high technology, from driverless cars to household smart-metering. This latest reported project, called the “Nanoparticle Platform,” is part of Google’s incursion in yet another field at the leading edge – medicine. Earlier this year, the same lab tested an advanced contact lens for people with diabetes that would serve as an alternative to pricking their fingers to test glucose levels. The device measures glucose levels in tears using a miniature wireless chip and a glucose sensor.