All you couch potatoes out there, here’s a bit of good news for you. Almost all of us dream to have a lean body, but it requires a lot of efforts in terms of exercise and diet control. However, scientists have come across a protein that can help them cut flab without high-intensity gym or even a brisk walk around the park. The same benefits of exercise can be reaped now with the help of this protein. As intriguing as it may sound, it’s not all that hunky dory. There’s a catch here! It is not yet available as pills but occurs naturally in the body.
The protein called ‘sestrin’ might harness the benefits of a good workout without ever moving a muscle, say researchers from University of Michigan. The researchers revealed that sestrin can mimic many of exercise’s effects in mice and flies.
“Sestrin accumulates in muscle following exercise,” said Myungjin Kim, research assistant professor in the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology.
Kim, working with professor Jun Hee Lee and a team of researchers wanted to know more about the protein’s apparent link to exercise.
Taking advantage of Drosophila flies’ normal instinct to climb up and out of a test tube, their collaborators from Wayne State University in Detroit developed a kind of fly treadmill.
The team trained the flies using that treadmill for three weeks in an attempt to compare the flying and running ability of normal flies with that of flies bred to lack the ability to make sestrin.
“Flies can usually run around four to six hours at this point and the normal flies’ abilities improved over that period,” said Lee. “The flies without Sestrin did not improve with exercise”.
When the researchers overexpressed Sestrin in the muscles of normal flies, they found those flies had abilities above and beyond the trained flies, even without exercise. Apart from this, flies with overexpressed sestrin didn’t develop more endurance when exercised.
Mice without sestrin lacked the improved respiration, improved aerobic capacity and fat burning, all of which are typically associated with exercise.
“We propose that sestrin can coordinate these biological activities by turning on or off different metabolic pathways,” Lee said, adding that this kind of combined effect is important for producing exercise’s effects.
Could Sestrin supplements be on the horizon? Not quite, said Lee, adding that Sestrins are not small molecules, but “we are working to find small molecule modulators of Sestrin”.