2 Dec 2017

Could a pill replace exercise?

From This Way Up, 12:45 pm on 2 December 2017

Live longer, have better sex, increase your memory, avoid constipation, build muscle tone, burn fat... with supposed benefits like these, it's no wonder that the search is on for a medication that mimics what happens when we exercise. 


Photo: (Jonathan Perez via unsplash.com)

Nicola Twilley has been exploring the development of a so-called 'exercise pill' for the New Yorker, with one candidate a drug called GW501516 (or 516 for short!) that is showing some promising early results.

"Couch Potato Mouse had been raised to serve as a proxy for the average American...The mouse was lethargic, lolling in a fresh layer of bedding, rolls of fat visible beneath thinning, greasy-looking fur. Lance Armstrong Mouse had been raised under exactly the same conditions, yet, despite its poor diet and lack of exercise, it was lean and taut, its eyes and coat shiny as it snuffled around its cage. The secret to its healthy appearance and youthful energy, Evans explained, lay in a daily dose of GW501516: a drug that confers the beneficial effects of exercise without the need to move a muscle." Nicola Twilley in The New Yorker