In a new study conducted at the University of Leeds, researchers found a protein that turns on the body’s exercise response, which may be the gateway for creating a drug that enhances or even mimics this response.
The protein, called Piezo1, located in blood vessel lining, senses the increased pressure on the arteries associated with exercise and constricts blood vessels. When the blood vessels constrict, blood flow to the stomach and arteries is reduced to increase blood flow to the muscles involved in the exercise and the brain. Until now, according to Science Daily, scientists haven’t been able to find any biomolecular mechanism that senses exercise. Now that they have this lead, researchers can begin looking into ways to reproduce this function with a drug to reap the health benefits of exercise, sans exercise (or at least enhance the already-existing benefits of exercise).
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One potential drug, named Yoda1 by researchers, was found to be able to copy the action of Piezo1 in the body’s intestinal linings to redirect blood flow to the muscles and brain. If this can show success in humans, the researchers predict that being able to mock the effects of exercise in this way may be useful in regulating problems like heart disease.
The bottom line: Don’t start skipping the gym just yet. Potential drugs like Yoda1 have only just started being developed, and they’re more intended for people with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular issues, not healthy people looking to replace cardio with Netflix and pills. Be that as it may, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., so finding a new way to control it would be life-changing for many.