Super Strength Substance (Myostatin) Closer to Human Trials

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National Children's Hospital used Macaque monkeys to test the effects of myostatin blocking on primates. The result:

National Children's Hospital used Macaques to test the effects of myostatin blocking on primates. The result: Muscular Monkeys

Get muscles now, ask me how. As published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the National Children’s Hospital (NCH) and Ohio State University have proven that blocking myostatin in monkeys will lead to skeletal muscle growth with few or no discernible negative side effects. Myostatin is the protein that helps mammals regulate muscle building, acting as a signal for muscles to stop consuming resources and stop growing. Blocking myostatin leads to enhanced muscle strength and continuous muscle growth. You may remember Liam Hoekstra, the baby apparently born without the myostatin gene, and similarly enabled animals that have absurd strength. Using gene therapy, NCH scientists were able to get follistatin (a myostatin blocker) to promote phenomenal muscle growth in the quadriceps of macaque monkeys. NCH is now working with the FDA to perform the preliminary steps necessary for a human clinical trial. We could see a superman gene therapy available in the next decade.

The National Children’s Hospital interest in myostatin is not to create super strong children, but to help those children whose muscles have already atrophied. Muscular Dystrophy (MD) affects thousands of children in the US who slowly lose muscle and rarely survive into adulthood. Follistatin gene therapy could serve as a method to extend their lives or perhaps even reverse the symptoms of their conditions. Likewise, the eldery are susceptible to several diseases that lead to a loss of muscle strength and coordination. By blocking myostatin, we may all be able to live with the strength of our youth even as we age into our 80s.

My concerns about myostatin have largely focused on potential organ damage, possible unknown dangerous effects on smooth muscle tissue, and ligament/tendon stresses. The NCH work addresses these concerns rather well. Macaques were observed for 15 months after receiving a gene therapy that promoted follistatin (and blocked myostatin) in their quadriceps. There was no observed damage to internal organs, the treatment only seemed to affect skeletal muscle, the reproductive cycles and cells functioned normally, and there was no reported damaged to tendons or ligaments (though this last issue wasn’t expressly pursued by the research).

The belgian blue has been bread to be predisposed towards myostatin blocking.

The belgian blue has been bread to be predisposed towards myostatin blocking.

As with all animals we’ve seen with myostatin inhibition, the monkeys at NCH enjoyed some serious boosts in strength. The macaques exhibited enhanced muscle growth for 12 weeks after treatment, beyond which muscle mass stabilized. The average circumference of the animals quadriceps increased by 15%. Using electric stimulation (you can’t order a monkey to lift weights) scientists were able to observe profound increases in leg strength. One specimen demonstrated a 78% increase over control results.

The next step for NCH is toxicology and biodistribution tests as outlined by the FDA. After that, further rounds of testing will be necessary before human clinical trials can begin. Still, considering the lack of negative side effects, and the profound need from the Muscular Dystrophy community, one hopes that those trials will begin in the next few years. If ultimately successful, follistatin gene therapy could treat the symptoms of MD while different genetic therapies could affect the causes of some forms of MD. And let’s not forget the weight-lifting 800 pound gorilla in the room. Along with MD treatments, and therapies for muscle loss in old age, the defeat of myostatin could lead to an effective way for all of us to get fit fast. No workouts necessary, eat almost all you want, and have a body like Adonis. This research is taking us one step closer to that goal…but it still sounds too good to be true. We can’t all be Superman, can we?

Discussion — 59 Responses

  • than December 9, 2009 on 1:11 am

    removing myostatin will result in enlarged heart which is a seriously bad situation.

    • Aaron Saenz than December 9, 2009 on 1:22 am

      It’s unclear if myostatin has the same effect on smooth (cardiac) muscle as it does on skeletal muscle.
      The body shouldn’t want to regulate the two using the same mechanism.

      • than Aaron Saenz December 9, 2009 on 1:27 am

        True. let me qualify with what I said by *may* and not will. still, myostatin is evolved for some purpose, perhaps to mitigate excessive nutritional requirements. i dunno

        • cacarr than December 9, 2009 on 1:51 am

          I could imagine it having something to do with controlling calorie requirements. If that’s all it’s doing, fantastic.

          • BAReFOOt cacarr December 9, 2009 on 5:32 am

            As usual in nature, it’s not that simple. Man is just that arrogant and ignorant, because of his greed. And then it gets punished for it again. Which is the nice part.

        • Required than December 9, 2009 on 9:33 am

          The body is evolved to store fat in order to survive. Food wasn’t always as readily available as it is now. The role of fat in the body is not mysterious. If you have a problem with a pill that blocks fat production, then you should also have a problem with eating three meals a day, because that’s not what we were originally evolved to do, either. We evolved to survive when food is scarce.

          • tyler anonymous Required December 9, 2009 on 9:26 pm

            Imagine a world where everyone had this mutation, the foot shortage problem that we who read newspapers everyday ignore would be much worse. I’m sure we’d actually be affected.

  • than December 8, 2009 on 9:11 pm

    removing myostatin will result in enlarged heart which is a seriously bad situation.

    • Aaron Saenz than December 8, 2009 on 9:22 pm

      It’s unclear if myostatin has the same effect on smooth (cardiac) muscle as it does on skeletal muscle.
      The body shouldn’t want to regulate the two using the same mechanism.

      • than Aaron Saenz December 8, 2009 on 9:27 pm

        True. let me qualify with what I said by *may* and not will. still, myostatin is evolved for some purpose, perhaps to mitigate excessive nutritional requirements. i dunno

        • cacarr than December 8, 2009 on 9:51 pm

          I could imagine it having something to do with controlling calorie requirements. If that’s all it’s doing, fantastic.

          • BAReFOOt cacarr December 9, 2009 on 1:32 am

            As usual in nature, it’s not that simple. Man is just that arrogant and ignorant, because of his greed. And then it gets punished for it again. Which is the nice part.

        • Required than December 9, 2009 on 5:33 am

          The body is evolved to store fat in order to survive. Food wasn’t always as readily available as it is now. The role of fat in the body is not mysterious. If you have a problem with a pill that blocks fat production, then you should also have a problem with eating three meals a day, because that’s not what we were originally evolved to do, either. We evolved to survive when food is scarce.

          • tyler anonymous Required December 9, 2009 on 5:26 pm

            Imagine a world where everyone had this mutation, the foot shortage problem that we who read newspapers everyday ignore would be much worse. I’m sure we’d actually be affected.

  • Vang December 9, 2009 on 2:04 am

    If all it is doing is allowing for humans to control calorie intake then this is unbelieveably fantastic. However the use of one substance to control another is my worry. As ubiquitous as Follistatin is in the human body, what would be the negative side effects of having a larger then normal dose of this?

  • Vang December 8, 2009 on 10:04 pm

    If all it is doing is allowing for humans to control calorie intake then this is unbelieveably fantastic. However the use of one substance to control another is my worry. As ubiquitous as Follistatin is in the human body, what would be the negative side effects of having a larger then normal dose of this?

  • Simon December 9, 2009 on 2:06 am

    Would this work to cure obesity to any degree?

    • BAReFOOt Simon December 9, 2009 on 5:42 am

      Yeah right, because getting even heavier will “cure” obesity.
      Stop making excuses, and stop eating trash that you wouldn’t even feed a dog to torture it, fatass!
      1. NO short carbohyrdates. So sugar, no starch and similar shit. Long they shall be!
      2. NO saturated fats. Unsaturated are GOOD though. You can detect the saturation. The more liquid, the better. Margarine is taboo and chemically toxic waste!
      3. Psychology, psychology, psychology. Over 90% of weight problems are NOT because of lack of knowledge on how to eat right. It’s because nutrition „expects“ are ignorant as shit about the fact, that it’s *psychological*! If you can’t feel good without eating too much. If you can’t feel good when eating what you know is right, then psychology is what is the problem. Try to find the *cause*. Protip: It’s always what you are most repressing. Face it full and frontal! And it will go away. If you can’t do it alone (no shame in that), get someone with strong nerves who will not judge you, to keep you on track!
      4. Sports. Actually, if you do sports, after a bit of time, it will give you the same happy feelings, that you got from food. As soon as you’re hooked, you will not want to miss it for that reason. Like a drug. But a more healthy one. ^^
      This does not work, when point 3 is not fixed though.

      One final thought to remember: Repeat after me: There is no magic pill!
      Just as„fixing“ your head is not a solution when you still keep running against the wall at full speed!
      You have to remove the cause of the problem (running into walls)! ^^

      Yes. No doctor will *ever* talk about that. It’s a taboo to them. They are unable to think in those ways. All they do is hide the symptoms until it goes away by itself. Normally only making it worse and expensive.

      Be wiser. It’s your body. The greatest machine ever built! Tune it like a car. Be proud! Learn to understand it. especially the brain! And you will become like a superhero in the skin of the average guy. :)

      • BAReFOOt BAReFOOt December 9, 2009 on 5:45 am

        Oops, a typo. I meant «nutrition “experts”». :)

      • Anon, a moose BAReFOOt December 9, 2009 on 6:00 am

        1. Studies have shown that there are one or more genetic defects that can cause obesity. Thus, there is some portion of the population that has no control over their weight. Neither insulting them nor recommending your master plan will solve their genetic issue.

        2. Some people remain overweight because people like you call them names, and they figure they cannot change how others see them. Perhaps if you are so well educated as to know so much that others do not, maybe you could use some compassion and respect to convince people instead of acting like an ass.

        • Tane Anon, a moose December 9, 2009 on 8:49 am

          If I was fat and people called me clearly related names like ‘fatty’, then I’d assume they’d stop if I slimmed down. Why would I think otherwise?

      • Dr. B BAReFOOt December 9, 2009 on 11:18 pm

        You flame on fat people while showing an incomplete comprehension of obesity. There are more factors involved than your over-simplified rant leads people to believe. Genes are involved as demonstrated by identical twins who hae very different diets but the same body types. Hormones are involved, as demostrated by studies where the animals were placed on a starvation diet after having their ovaries removed and still got fat. Insulin regulation is probably the most important factor. You are only partly correct about your diet recommendations. Simple carbohydrates are too common and should be decreased. Saturated fats are not unhealthy. There has NEVER been a good study indicating that a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol makes anyone obese or that it causes heart disease. True, trans- fats are not healthy, but cys-fats (also saturated, and the type found in butter and lard) are healthy. Cholesterol is also a necessary nutrient. The body makes some for use in bile (essential for digestion), but we need more than the amount naturally produced in the body. It is also the main ingredient in steroid hormones (Steroid = ..sterol). All the women who went on the low fat/low cholesterol diet fads of the 1980s are now on hormone replacement and diabetic because they replaced fat with carbs. It really is a complex issue and not something to insult people about. “Required” has it correct. This may prove to be a very useful treatment, but it may also do all sorts of undesired things, like shrink your testicles…but then, you wouldn’t have any, would you.

  • Simon December 8, 2009 on 10:06 pm

    Would this work to cure obesity to any degree?

    • BAReFOOt Simon December 9, 2009 on 1:42 am

      Yeah right, because getting even heavier will “cure” obesity.
      Stop making excuses, and stop eating trash that you wouldn’t even feed a dog to torture it, fatass!
      1. NO short carbohyrdates. So sugar, no starch and similar shit. Long they shall be!
      2. NO saturated fats. Unsaturated are GOOD though. You can detect the saturation. The more liquid, the better. Margarine is taboo and chemically toxic waste!
      3. Psychology, psychology, psychology. Over 90% of weight problems are NOT because of lack of knowledge on how to eat right. It’s because nutrition „expects“ are ignorant as shit about the fact, that it’s *psychological*! If you can’t feel good without eating too much. If you can’t feel good when eating what you know is right, then psychology is what is the problem. Try to find the *cause*. Protip: It’s always what you are most repressing. Face it full and frontal! And it will go away. If you can’t do it alone (no shame in that), get someone with strong nerves who will not judge you, to keep you on track!
      4. Sports. Actually, if you do sports, after a bit of time, it will give you the same happy feelings, that you got from food. As soon as you’re hooked, you will not want to miss it for that reason. Like a drug. But a more healthy one. ^^
      This does not work, when point 3 is not fixed though.

      One final thought to remember: Repeat after me: There is no magic pill!
      Just as„fixing“ your head is not a solution when you still keep running against the wall at full speed!
      You have to remove the cause of the problem (running into walls)! ^^

      Yes. No doctor will *ever* talk about that. It’s a taboo to them. They are unable to think in those ways. All they do is hide the symptoms until it goes away by itself. Normally only making it worse and expensive.

      Be wiser. It’s your body. The greatest machine ever built! Tune it like a car. Be proud! Learn to understand it. especially the brain! And you will become like a superhero in the skin of the average guy. :)

      • BAReFOOt BAReFOOt December 9, 2009 on 1:45 am

        Oops, a typo. I meant «nutrition “experts”». :)

      • Anon, a moose BAReFOOt December 9, 2009 on 2:00 am

        1. Studies have shown that there are one or more genetic defects that can cause obesity. Thus, there is some portion of the population that has no control over their weight. Neither insulting them nor recommending your master plan will solve their genetic issue.

        2. Some people remain overweight because people like you call them names, and they figure they cannot change how others see them. Perhaps if you are so well educated as to know so much that others do not, maybe you could use some compassion and respect to convince people instead of acting like an ass.

        • Tane Anon, a moose December 9, 2009 on 4:49 am

          If I was fat and people called me clearly related names like ‘fatty’, then I’d assume they’d stop if I slimmed down. Why would I think otherwise?

      • Dr. B BAReFOOt December 9, 2009 on 7:18 pm

        You flame on fat people while showing an incomplete comprehension of obesity. There are more factors involved than your over-simplified rant leads people to believe. Genes are involved as demonstrated by identical twins who hae very different diets but the same body types. Hormones are involved, as demostrated by studies where the animals were placed on a starvation diet after having their ovaries removed and still got fat. Insulin regulation is probably the most important factor. You are only partly correct about your diet recommendations. Simple carbohydrates are too common and should be decreased. Saturated fats are not unhealthy. There has NEVER been a good study indicating that a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol makes anyone obese or that it causes heart disease. True, trans- fats are not healthy, but cys-fats (also saturated, and the type found in butter and lard) are healthy. Cholesterol is also a necessary nutrient. The body makes some for use in bile (essential for digestion), but we need more than the amount naturally produced in the body. It is also the main ingredient in steroid hormones (Steroid = ..sterol). All the women who went on the low fat/low cholesterol diet fads of the 1980s are now on hormone replacement and diabetic because they replaced fat with carbs. It really is a complex issue and not something to insult people about. “Required” has it correct. This may prove to be a very useful treatment, but it may also do all sorts of undesired things, like shrink your testicles…but then, you wouldn’t have any, would you.

  • John December 9, 2009 on 4:18 am

    Damn, let me on the trial.

  • John December 9, 2009 on 12:18 am

    Damn, let me on the trial.

  • AWESOME December 9, 2009 on 6:49 am

    Well I think this is awesome. If it can be made safe, then lets rock!!!

  • AWESOME December 9, 2009 on 2:49 am

    Well I think this is awesome. If it can be made safe, then lets rock!!!

  • The Quick Brown Fox December 9, 2009 on 10:31 am

    I’m sure MLB players will be closely monitoring the development of this drug.

    • Dr. B The Quick Brown Fox December 9, 2009 on 11:20 pm

      Funny, yet soooo true.

  • The Quick Brown Fox December 9, 2009 on 6:31 am

    I’m sure MLB players will be closely monitoring the development of this drug.

    • Dr. B The Quick Brown Fox December 9, 2009 on 7:20 pm

      Funny, yet soooo true.

  • Bram Scholten, The Netherlands December 9, 2009 on 1:46 pm

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  • Bram Scholten, The Netherlands December 9, 2009 on 9:46 am

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  • Aaron December 9, 2009 on 4:39 pm

    “… the defeat of myostatin could lead to an effective way for all of us to get fit fast. ”

    Just, no. If it isn’t broken, stop trying to fix it.

  • Aaron December 9, 2009 on 12:39 pm

    “… the defeat of myostatin could lead to an effective way for all of us to get fit fast. ”

    Just, no. If it isn’t broken, stop trying to fix it.

  • SkyWulf December 9, 2009 on 3:11 pm

    The title is fatally misleading. Myostatin is a growth *inhibitor*, quite the *opposite* of a “super strength substance.” The chemical that *would* to the trick is follistatin, a growth inhibitor inhibitor.

  • SkyWulf December 9, 2009 on 7:11 pm

    The title is fatally misleading. Myostatin is a growth *inhibitor*, quite the *opposite* of a “super strength substance.” The chemical that *would* to the trick is follistatin, a growth inhibitor inhibitor.

  • Mr X December 10, 2009 on 12:47 am

    Guys think about it they would not use it just on anyone. I do wonder if this will be a break through it could help so many people that have MD or are paralized. This is a new cure for those that can’t walk or have other problems that this drug can fix.
    Yes indeed there might be side effects but it would be rather usefull if they find a way to get rid of the side effects.

  • Mr X December 9, 2009 on 8:47 pm

    Guys think about it they would not use it just on anyone. I do wonder if this will be a break through it could help so many people that have MD or are paralized. This is a new cure for those that can’t walk or have other problems that this drug can fix.
    Yes indeed there might be side effects but it would be rather usefull if they find a way to get rid of the side effects.

  • Ben December 13, 2009 on 1:49 am

    I hope sports players do use this, ruin sports, and we take back a huge chunk of our population from the mindless dribble that is sports. I hope this medicine, if proven effective, is not censored for fear of ruining sports. Obviously there is a lot of testing to be done, but I sincerely hope that this proves to be a treatment we could all partake in.

  • Ben December 12, 2009 on 9:49 pm

    I hope sports players do use this, ruin sports, and we take back a huge chunk of our population from the mindless dribble that is sports. I hope this medicine, if proven effective, is not censored for fear of ruining sports. Obviously there is a lot of testing to be done, but I sincerely hope that this proves to be a treatment we could all partake in.

  • Fit Human December 23, 2009 on 5:47 pm

    This is a great Guide to Fitness and muscle building

  • Fit Human December 23, 2009 on 1:47 pm

    This is a great Guide to Fitness and muscle building

  • Bob January 7, 2010 on 4:27 pm

    As a person slowly losing the use of his legs and arms due to sIBM, I’m appalled at your lack of sensitivity and only focusing on the effects for sports figures and overweight individuals. I want to have my life back. I want to be whole again and not someone looked upon with pity. I want to dance. Got it?

  • Bob January 7, 2010 on 12:27 pm

    As a person slowly losing the use of his legs and arms due to sIBM, I’m appalled at your lack of sensitivity and only focusing on the effects for sports figures and overweight individuals. I want to have my life back. I want to be whole again and not someone looked upon with pity. I want to dance. Got it?

  • bigwalt February 14, 2010 on 12:50 am

    listen im over weight and ive been trying to lose weight for 2 years now ive been fat my whole life. im 23 years old and frankly i dont care that this drug may make me thin , i care that may let people walk again and use there arms , i dont want no cheap way out of being fat i want to work hard and do it my self. im not trying to put anybody down but if ur fat do something about it dont just wait for some drug to be made that will do it for u.

  • Laura March 4, 2010 on 9:11 pm

    Bob,
    My husband also has IBM, so we too are following this closely. We found out a couple of years ago after he was first told he had ALS. He is 44.

  • martin0641 June 12, 2010 on 3:24 am

    The symptom bias people are displaying is amazingly short sighted. My genes are designed to allow me to store energy efficiently, and not waste calories. Everything I enjoy is a sedentary activity, I like reading and other calm pursuits. I don’t like moving, or running, or even going outside. Because of biology, over time this lifestyle tends to make some people overweight. Others with different genes can stay thin while doing the same thing. I don’t care what my genes want to do, I want my body to do what I want it to do. We use science to overcome nature, that is what it is for. When the time comes comes that I can take a pill and be in high physical condition, I will do so. The result will be significantly lower medical costs in the long run, a savings to the nation as a whole, along with greater satisfaction of life in general. People used to walk around, now we take planes and cars. Gaining mastery over our own Biology is just the next logical step in a process that began when we invented the axe and controlled fire.

    I don’t get smallpox like people used to, I don’t have polio like people used to, and when the time comes I will be healthy with no major effort investment on my part. Being fit will also make me more likely to actually do physical activity when the time is proper.

    I’m not going to waste my time running in circles and lifting arbitrary weights and objects just to make other people feel better. Since nothing you can do will prevent this eventuality – you might as well get used to the idea. It sure beats the barbaric methods we currently use to lose weight from exercise (joint damage and sports related injury) to liposuction and all the risks that come along with it.

  • martin0641 June 11, 2010 on 11:24 pm

    The symptom bias people are displaying is amazingly short sighted. My genes are designed to allow me to store energy efficiently, and not waste calories. Everything I enjoy is a sedentary activity, I like reading and other calm pursuits. I don’t like moving, or running, or even going outside. Because of biology, over time this lifestyle tends to make some people overweight. Others with different genes can stay thin while doing the same thing. I don’t care what my genes want to do, I want my body to do what I want it to do. We use science to overcome nature, that is what it is for. When the time comes comes that I can take a pill and be in high physical condition, I will do so. The result will be significantly lower medical costs in the long run, a savings to the nation as a whole, along with greater satisfaction of life in general. People used to walk around, now we take planes and cars. Gaining mastery over our own Biology is just the next logical step in a process that began when we invented the axe and controlled fire.

    I don’t get smallpox like people used to, I don’t have polio like people used to, and when the time comes I will be healthy with no major effort investment on my part. Being fit will also make me more likely to actually do physical activity when the time is proper.

    I’m not going to waste my time running in circles and lifting arbitrary weights and objects just to make other people feel better. Since nothing you can do will prevent this eventuality – you might as well get used to the idea. It sure beats the barbaric methods we currently use to lose weight from exercise (joint damage and sports related injury) to liposuction and all the risks that come along with it.

  • josh314151 August 9, 2011 on 9:59 am

    I would be inerested in human trials when it is ready. My email is braunerj120007@gmail.com. I live in Calgary Alberta

  • Bryan Ellis July 6, 2013 on 11:48 pm

    it should be made for a better generation if you ever need any test subject only for trying super strength human i would be honored only once though

  • Debra Harris July 30, 2014 on 1:26 am

    “Impressive information you’ve got! Thank
    you so much.”

  • RobertS October 1, 2014 on 4:28 am

    Great write up. I have several myostatin articles on my blog however your article has combined all the information I have researched into one easy to read article. I’m especially interested in the human clinical trials. The trails are being carried out by Prof Dickson and beyond proof of concept seem to be doing incredibly well. We can expect this drug to be abused if they are successful in human trials especially in the bodybuilding community.

  • AquaPunk73 October 23, 2014 on 10:27 pm

    I would love to have this tested on me no pay and I don’t care if there’s any side effects I would be honored to be the first test subject even if its before you think it’s ready for human trail email is alphadx626@gmail.com