BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Do we never have to workoout again?

Could it really be possible to get all the benefits of a rigorous workout without moving a muscle?

Recent Biological findings show promise that protein supplements can cause similar effects as a full body workout. The protein is called Sestrin and as of now it has only showed compelling results in flies and mice. However this new drug could be the key to a more healthy population.

 

What evidence is there?

A Michigan University study set up an elaborate experiment involving flies climbing or flying up the inside of a test tube, only to be shaken back down to the bottom. This practice was repeated for hours on end to test the endurance of the flies. The researchers made use of multiple apparatus in order to effectively test multiple variables. One such variable was the amount of sestrin present in the flies muscles. This could be controlled through the genetic engineering of multiple generations of flies to select for certain traits like high or low amounts of sestrin. Through multiple lengthy trials it was determined that flies with higher amounts of sestrin showed better increases in endurance over time as well as perhaps the most important result, flies that were extremely abundant with sestrin were without exercise better suited to climb or fly for longer amounts of time than flies without it that had been training for longer. This result serves as a great case for why sestrin might be the super drug some speculate.

How does it work?

Sestrin, a part of a highly conserved family of proteins, is hypothesized to work by coordinating metabolic homeostasis by  selectively turning on and off different metabolic pathways as a means to imitate the effects of exercise.

What do you think?

Is sestrin truly the drug of the future? Personally I remain skeptical until  a multitude of studies come to similar conclusions. Are the days of gym memberships and unkept new years resolutions over? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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11 Comments

  1. mitochondriana

    I have to agree with saadoplasm, your heading, Ethansol, definitely caught my eye. Before I read your article I was adamant when it came to the idea of not working out in that I believed it’s a necessity as well as a rudimentary topic that has been studied and understood for years. Alas, it could be improved upon, and actually cut out in whole! It would be great to know when the study at UMich was preformed.
    Your article makes me wonder if Sestrin could be used as a supplement or steroid when looking to body-build for sport or for a specific medical condition (possibly in sarcoidosis patients that are known to struggle with muscle weakness). If you’re wondering the same, don’t worry!! I found an article that calrifies the relation between Sestrin levels and patients with sarcoid myopathy. https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P3797 . This could mean that giving these patients a Sestrin supplement could make them stronger and even more able to live.

  2. saadoplasm

    I was definitely intrigued by this headline. I know that I like to exercise to clear my head and i feel like it is definitely beneficial to my mental health to go for a walk or run outside. I could also definitely imagine the FDA being all over this and hopefully will ensure that this protein is regulated correctly and tested extensively. I also found a lot of information about how sestrin is a great anti-aging protein. I’m interested to see how this develops in the future. Maybe sestrin will become a mainstream product sold in pharmacies? We’ll see. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13832-9

  3. dannimal

    Thank you for bringing light to such a fascinating topic Ethansol! I had never heard about this protein and am so interested in learning more about it and it’s effects on humans. While I see a lot of other comments focusing on how sestrin consumptions lacks the release of endorphins that makes exercise enjoyable to so many people, I am also curious about how this product could be mishandled and falsified on the health foods market. According to an article on Business Standard, “the market for dietary supplements is set to double from the current $2 billion to $4 billion by 2020,” so you could only imagine what could happen when a market that is already so full of phony science can latch onto a discovery like this one! Personally, I think there would have to be a load of research and regulation put into place before this product ever gets close to being put on an already lucrative and risky market. If you are interested in learning more about the health foods market and its rocky relationship with factual scientific research, take a look at this article: https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/beware-of-fake-bodybuilding-supplements-fitness-tips-118090800199_1.html.

  4. michaelchondria

    This was an interesting read because I have always wondered if one could become in better shape by taking any sort of scientifically modded pill or supplement. An article I found (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13442-5) shared similar results to the ones in your article, noting that Sestrin did enhance the endurance of the mice. I’m excited to see what the future of Sestrin is in terms of the fitness world. Sestrin can function as “an antioxidant to reduce oxidative damage in cells.” Humans being able to take a protein supplement that reduces damage to cells is huge for the future, as Sestrin can even go far as elongating life spans. Sestrin has the capability to be a major supplement in the near future for bodybuilders and casuals alike.

  5. jednetic

    Great Work Ethansol!! I found a study that details the molecular pathways the Sestrin uses. Sestrin uses anabolic and catabolic signals and it uses them to prevent atrophy in muscles!!! The study, in short, says that skeletal muscles have the ability to change mass depending on stress which can lead to muscle buildup or atrophy. As Ethansol has pointed out, the higher levels of sestrin lead to less atrophy.

    For a jargon-filled yet in-depth explanation click here:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6955241/

  6. YusRNA

    @Ethansol This is a really interesting article, that definitely speaks to a commonly held fantasy to gain the benefit of exercise without needing to actually exercise. What really interested me was the means through which they made sure each fly had the same Sestrin level. You mentioned how they ensured that there would be similar Sestrin levels in the flies through genetic editing. Considering how much pot a hot topic genetic editing is today, I wonder if there is a similar discussion going on about it in the science community regarding animals. Animals definitely cannot give consent, and I would assume that us doing experiments like this could definitely have a negative impact on the ecosystem due to the ripple effect. This article from a government website, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078015/, describes the current ethics surrounding the ethics of genetic editing of animals in case any of you were interested.

  7. Johnomer

    I was interested in reading this article because there are so many products that marked themselves as this pill does as a workout replacement. I wanted to learn if they had any results behind them or if the companies were just lying. After reading this article it seems that there has been fair evidence that these pills could be the super drug that can replace exercise. The one thing the protein is missing compared to normal exercise is that working out releases endorphins which help relieve stress and relax after working out. As discussed in the article at https://www.karger.com/Article/Fulltext/484060 one of the main drawbacks of this new protein is that it would not release endorphins like its normal exercise counter part.

  8. maggiechondria

    Hi Ethansol, your article was fascinating! I find it so interesting that Sestrin protein supplements can cause similar effects as a full body workout. However, I am also skeptical to say sestrin is the drug of the future until I see a multitude of studies come to similar conclusions. I found a similar article, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105122056.htm, which states Sestrin 3 (a different form of the protein) plays a critical role in regulating molecular pathways that control the production of glucose and insulin sensitivity in the liver, making it a logical target for drug development for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which can produce increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and insulin resistance. It is so amazing to see how the form of Sestrin you researched and discussed in your article might be a workout alternative, and how I found that Sestrin 3 is an identified protein that can work as a new target for controlling diabetes. It is amazing to see what protein supplements can do, and I am intrigued to see the advancements of Sestrin usage!

  9. rivard

    This is very interesting! I this is an interesting idea of building muscle without doing any work. I wonder if this can help many different species of animals or just a select few? I am interested to see how we use Sestrin to better the population. I found this article that shows the benefits of working out and the other things it contributes too. https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html

  10. Widgeon

    I liked your article, Ethansol. Sestrin would be a great idea and drug for the future if it is proven to work on humans. One part that I don’t think that you included was the other effects of working out. Although the main reason to work out is to build muscle and stay in shape, going outside and getting fresh air can also be just as important as building the muscle. Also, exercise is proven to help your mental health along with helping to keep your memory sharp as you grow older. Sestrin seems like a great idea, only when we fail to consider all of the benefits of exercise. Is sestrin only compatible with the genes of some animals such as mice and flies or can it be applied to humans and other large animals as well? Here is an article that discusses why your don’t even have to work out which directly relates to your post.
    https://www.uncagedman.com/fitness-is-broken

  11. nucleahtide

    Very interesting article, Ethansol! Though sestrin may be able to replicate the physical benefits of exercise, there are important aspects of the psychological benefits of exercise that should not be overlooked. For example, exercise can reduce stress, and allow you to sleep better. I feel that sestrin could diminish the need for daily exercise, but there are still benefits to exercise that sestrin cannot replicate.

    https://www.waldenu.edu/online-bachelors-programs/bs-in-psychology/resource/five-mental-benefits-of-exercise

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