Gene Therapy Builds Muscles Fast

Lee Sweeney (University of Pennsylvania) has shown that gene therapy can build muscles fast in rats - and maintain their size - even without an exercise program. Rats that were put on an exercise program doubled their muscle strength.

The main purpose of the research is to increase the strength of muscles in the elderly and in people who suffer from muscle-wasting diseases like muscular dystrophy. However, the treatment has raised concerns among heads of sports organizations, who fear that techniques like this will make monitoring athletes even more difficult. And the athletes are interested.

"Half of the emails I get are from patients," says Sweeney. "And the other half are from athletes."

Science fiction writers have both aspects of muscle enhancement covered. In his 1984 novel Neuromancer, William Gibson has written about joeboys, thugs who have their muscular strength increased artificially through muscle grafting.

And science fiction Grandmaster Robert Heinlein addressed the problem of helping people with myasthenia gravis (another muscle-wasting disorder) in his classic 1942 story Waldo. In it he introduced telefactoring devices which have come to be named waldoes after the novella.

See also:

Study Raises Fears of Genetically Modified Athletes
Gene Therapy Shows Its Muscle
H. Lee Sweeney Bio

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