New Generation of Performance Enhancing Drugs

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NatureNews has just reported on a new drug that plugs calcium leaks in muscles and boosts stamina (in mice).  I have previously written of the next wave of what I call “designer drug abuse” coming- performance enhancing drugs.  The first batch are called eugeroics and offers improved memory, mood enhancement, improved alertness and cognitive powers without any of the nasty side effects and mass murder of speed and crank.  This new class is a physical performance enhancer.   You can read my thoughts on how far people will go in the future to enhance their bodies here.  If you think plastic surgery is the rage of body enhancement – wait until we get performance and congnitive enhancing bionics, drugs, and implants!

Nature writes of the published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today (Bellinger, A. M. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 2198-2202 (2008).

Researchers have shown how intense exercise can damage muscles, and developed a drug that can hinder the effect in mice. Mice on a taxing work-out schedule were stronger and had more endurance when given the drug.

The drug, called S107, prevents calcium from leaking into muscle cells. Calcium causes muscles to contract, but calcium leaks can reduce the force of contraction and activate an enzyme that chews up muscle protein.

They go on to say that “leaky calcium channels have been associated with the fatigue and soreness that follows intense, sustained exertion, such as running a marathon or long-distance cycling. This weakness can last for days or weeks, and is not the same as the brief discomfort that follows a typical work-out.”

As expected there is a start-up ARMGO Pharma, that plans to develop S107 and others like it for clinical use in patients with chronic tiredness from disease.

Nature hits upon the potential for abuse just as I predicted.  “Don Catlin, director of the Olympic Laboratory drug-testing centre at the University of California, Los Angeles, says that a drug such as S107 could also become prime fodder for athletes looking to improve their stamina.

I myself had dinner with the former chief medical director of the olympic committee (the guy in charge of thesting if the women really are women and vice versa).  He told me he is very concerned about athletes and students using performance enhancing drugs.  Imagine a high school athlete or student offered a pill that could makethem run faster or longer or increase memory without adverse effects.  How many do you think would take them.  I recall his worry- your child saying daddy I want to be a track star- can you amputate my legs so I can get the new bionic ones. 

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