Exercise Pill Promises Instant Weight Loss

There's a reason the Clayton gym is named Sweat. In the power andpunch class, men and women alternate a variety of exercises withpunching a heavy bag.

"They want to lose weight, they want to gain muscle, they want to look better," said Sweat owner David Lazaroff.

The goals include weight loss, increased metabolism and endurance,and cholesterol improvement. What if you could design a pill thatproduced the same exercise benefits?

"I think anyone would say, 'Yeah I'd rather take a pill than have towork at it,' but I think there are other benefits to exercise," saidSweat client Heidi Miller, while furiously pedaling an exercise bike.

Dr. Thomas Burris recently became chairman of the department ofpharmacological and physiological science at St. Louis University. Thejob brought him back to his home town after 25 years away from St.Louis. Burris and his research team at the Scripps Research Institute inJupiter, FL injected mice with a protein called REV-ERB and the resultshave been startling.

"Administering the drug increased metabolic rates in mice," said Dr.Burris. "They lost weight even if they were on a high-fat diet. Justlike exercise lowers bad cholesterol, this compound appears to lower badcholesterol and lower triglyceride levels."

Exercise without the sweat is an enticing idea, but Dr. Burris saysthe aim of his research is to help people who have difficulty exercisingbecause of obesity or disease like diabetes.

"A lot of people are not able to exercise or may need the first stepstoward losing weight before being able to safely exercise."

An exercise pill: a fascinating possibility that could impact the way we stay healthy.

"What this type of drug would be able to do is give you some of thebenefits of exercise without the necessary physical exertion," said Dr.Burris.

Lazaroff says it's a promise that sounds familiar.

"There's multiple pills on the market now that claim those exactresults, but nothing is going to work like getting into the gym," hesaid.

According to Dr. Burris, none of the mice in the study experiencednegative side effects. As Burris speaks to venture capitalists aboutforming a company to create an exercise pill, he believes human trialscould begin in two years or less.


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