Couch-Potato Mouse Provides Clues on Obesity

ORLANDO – Researchers in Orlando think there may be a biological reason why some people find it harder to exercise than others. They found this out by studying a specially engineered animal : the couch-potato mouse. [audio:|titles=couchpotatomouse|artists=Lhee]

The average mouse can run for 170 minutes, but a couch-potato mouse can only last for a little over 6 and a half.

The couch-potato mouse looks normal and isn’t overweight, but it has trouble exercising. That’s because scientists have removed a key protein from its muscles.

Project leader Daniel Kelly at Orlando’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute says the discovery may someday lead to drugs that boost the protein’s levels in obese human patients. This could help them become more active, but Kelly warns it wouldn’t be a substitute for exercise.

“It’s going to be a way to get exercise going, especially in these obese individuals,” Kelly said. “I don’t think we’ll ever find a pill that will replace exercise.”

Kelly and his colleagues published their findings earlier this month in the journal Cell Metabolism. [ | FPR Spot]