(Quartz) Researchers have made the breakthrough of couch potatoes’ dreams with a new drug that mimics some of the most important effects of exercise. Scientists from Deakin University in Melbourne published their findings in Cell Reports earlier this week, showing that overweight mice who were given the drug no longer showed signs of cardiovascular disease.
The biologists began their research almost a decade ago, says Sean McGee, associate professor of medical biology at the school, with the specific goal of replicating the effects of exercise. They began by examining the molecular response to exercise in muscle. The genes that control for lipid metabolism turn on during exercise, which causes the body to burn the fat that contributes to heart disease. McGee and his team found the protein that keeps these genes turned off most of the time, and were able to genetically manipulate it in order to turn on the fat-burning genes.