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Tuesday, August 24, 2004A new genetically engineered mouse shows huge promise for the research.With no previous running experience, most mice can run about 900 meters before exhaustion. But the genetically altered mice can run 1800 meters (more than a mile) before running out of steam, and keep it up for two and a half hours -- an hour longer than unaltered mice can run.Previously, the only known way to increase endurance was through training.To perform the genetic enhancement on the mice, researchers injected a human version of a protein called PPAR-delta attached to a short DNA sequence. The injection permanently incorporated enhanced PPAR-delta production into the mice' genomes. The change is transgenic, meaning the mice will pass down the trait to future generations. Most physiologists believe that enhancing performance is a complicated process during which several genes coordinate changes throughout the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the muscle itself. But this single change seems to have rewired the entire system. That could be good news for people who are confined to a wheelchair or suffer from muscle-wasting diseases like AIDS or muscular dystrophy. The discovery could also lead to treatments for diabetes and obesity, because the mice also had lower levels of intramuscular triglycerides, which are associated with insulin resistance and diabetes in obese people.While mice are much easier to genetically alter than humans, if genetic modification is perfected in humans, this could lead to an easy way to enhance sports performance. Already several ethical questions are beginning to get heard centered around Human Genetics..
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