As a follow up to my earlier posting on human drones, researchers on Monday unveiled genetically engineered mice that can run farther and longer than their naturally bred brethren, bringing genetic doping of athletes a step closer.
The gene engineered in these mice essentially mimics exercise, conferring endurance and preventing the modified mice from becoming obese—even when they are inactive and fed a high-fat diet.
The research paper has been published in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology.
The engineered mice apparently ran 1,800 meters and stayed on the treadmill an hour longer than the natural mice.
The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC is already conducting human experiments with a chemical that turns on the “fat switch” in hopes of developing a drug to raise levels of “good” cholesterol.
As something of a couch potato myself, this looks like a promising development, but how can it be kept out of the hands of athletes, or should it? If similar results can be achieved in humans, will we have to have 2 classes of athletes at the Olympic Games, or will it be like the obsolete concerns over the difference between amateurs and professionals that used to rule out some athletes from competing?