Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vibrate those pounds away!

Remember those late night television ads for weight loss machines - melt you fat away! Today's Science Times includes an absurd front page article about a study to decrease body fat and build bone density in mice by having them stand on a vibrating platform for 15 minutes each day. Front page, I suppose, because it's about weight loss. Evidently there are stem cells in bone marrow that have the potential to become fat or bone and without receiving a certain kind of signal, as could be happening in osteoporosis, they tend to produce less bone and more fat.
Dr. Rubin had an idea. "We thought, Wait a second, " he said. "If we are mechanically stimulating cells to form bone, what isn't happening? We thought maybe these bone progenitor cells are driving down a decision path. Maybe they are not becoming fat cells."

He paid a visit to Jeffrey E. Pessin, a diabetes expert at Stony Brook, and presented his hypothesis. Dr. Pessin laughed uproariously. He "almost kicked me out of his office," as Dr. Rubin put it.

But when Dr. Rubin decided to go ahead anyway, Dr. Pessin joined in . Their hope was to see a small effect on body fat after the mice stood on the platforms 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 15 weeks. Dr. Rubin was stunned by the 27 percent reduction.

"Talk about your jaw dropping...."

Yeah. Mine did. Especially when they spoke of a clinical trial with 200 elderly adults in assisted living who will be herded onto this platform each day. I hope they take their teeth out. The article does quote an obesity researcher at Columbia as saying that the platform could feel like an earthquake to mice:
"they could be scared to death, which could affect the study data."
Maybe they should just show the elderly study subjects horror movies so they don't have to leave their chairs.

Our science dollars hard at work. How about exercise?

No comments: